Julian Assange: Sweden considers reviving rape inquiry

Julian Assange pictured in a police vanPicture copyright

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Assange was discovered responsible of a British cost, however he might be extradited to the US to face a separate cost

Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange might face a renewed investigation into an allegation of rape in Sweden.

Assange, 47, who had been granted asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy for seven years, was arrested on Thursday.

Swedish prosecutors mentioned they had been inspecting the case on the request of the alleged sufferer’s lawyer.

The US additionally needs to extradite him from the UK over his alleged function in one of many largest ever leaks of presidency secrets and techniques in 2010.

Australian-born Assange faces a cost of conspiracy to commit laptop intrusion within the US for his alleged function in one of many largest ever leaks of presidency secrets and techniques in 2010, which might lead to a jail time period of as much as 5 years.

Lawyer Elizabeth Massi Fritz mentioned she would do “the whole lot we probably can” to get the investigation reopened in Sweden.

Assange sought refuge within the Knightsbridge embassy in 2012 to keep away from extradition to Sweden on sexual assault prices. However Ecuador abruptly withdrew its asylum and invited the police to arrest him on Thursday.

After his dramatic arrest, he was taken to Westminster Magistrates’ Court docket and located responsible of a British cost of breaching bail. He spent Thursday evening in custody and is going through as much as 12 months in jail for that conviction.

The United Nations has referred to as for his proper to a good trial to be revered throughout any extradition course of.

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Media captionVideo footage reveals Julian Assange being dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy in London

What’s the Swedish investigation about?

Assange was accused of rape following a Wikileaks convention in Stockholm in 2010. He has at all times denied the allegation, saying the intercourse was consensual.

Swedish prosecutors dropped the investigation into Assange in 2017 as a result of they had been unable to proceed whereas he remained within the Ecuadorean embassy.

Assange additionally confronted two different prices of molestation and illegal coercion, however these had been dropped in 2015 as a result of time had run out.

Prosecutors will now re-examine the rape case to resolve whether or not to renew it earlier than the statute of limitations runs out in August 2020.

Ms Massi Fritz, lawyer for the alleged sufferer, mentioned the arrest got here as a shock however “what we have now been ready and hoping for since 2012 has now lastly occurred”.

She mentioned: “No rape sufferer ought to have to attend 9 years to see justice be served.”

What does the US need with Assange?

Assange is because of face a listening to over his potential extradition to the US on 2 Could.

The US Division of Justice has accused him of conspiring with former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to commit “one of many largest compromises of categorised info within the historical past of the USA”.

Manning was arrested in 2010 for disclosing greater than 700,000 confidential paperwork, together with a video of US troopers killing civilians from a helicopter in Iraq. She was lately jailed for a second time for refusing to testify in an investigation into Wikileaks.

Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson mentioned they might be combating the extradition request. She mentioned it set a “harmful precedent” for journalists publishing details about the US.

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Media captionDoes Trump nonetheless love Wikileaks… or what?

Jonathan Turley, a legislation professor at George Washington College, mentioned the fees had been crafted to keep away from free speech considerations by accusing Assange of taking part within the theft of data. However he mentioned the indictment was “skinny on proof”.

Throughout a briefing on the White Home following Assange’s arrest, US President Donald Trump was requested by reporters if he stood by his election marketing campaign comment that he liked Wikileaks, which launched damaging info on his opponent Hillary Clinton.

“I do know nothing about Wikileaks,” mentioned Mr Trump. “It isn’t my factor.”

How has the UK reacted?

With Assange going through extradition proceedings and as much as 5 years in federal jail on the US laptop hacking cost, shadow house secretary Diane Abbott instructed BBC Radio four’s Right this moment programme that the UK ought to resist handing him over.

She mentioned: “That is all about Wikileaks and all of that embarrassing details about the actions of the American navy and safety companies that was made public.”

Ecuador arrest man ‘shut’ to Assange
How seemingly is an Assange conviction in US?

Initially Ms Abbott dismissed the Swedish allegations, saying 3 times that Assange was by no means charged, however she later mentioned he ought to face the prison justice system if the Swedish authorities does cost him.

Labour chief Jeremy Corbyn additionally mentioned the UK ought to oppose Assange’s extradition, “for exposing proof of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan”.

The BBC’s diplomatic correspondent James Landale mentioned backing Assange just isn’t with out political danger and won’t discover common favour amongst Labour MPs – however it means “the battle over Assange’s future will now be as a lot political as it’s authorized”.

Prime Minister Theresa Could welcomed the arrest, saying it confirmed that “within the UK, nobody is above the legislation”.

How does the extradition course of work?

Whether or not Assange is extradited to the US will rely on the choice of a decide and the UK house secretary, following a process set out in a 2003 treaty.

Lawyer Rebecca Niblock mentioned the extradition resolution lies primarily with the courts and since modifications had been launched in 2013, solely a decide can resolve whether or not an extradition breaches a person’s human rights.

The house secretary can solely contemplate a restricted variety of points when deciding whether or not to order an extradition, together with whether or not the particular person is vulnerable to the loss of life penalty.

Nonetheless, if Sweden additionally made an extradition request, Ms Niblock mentioned it might be for the house secretary to resolve which request would take priority, contemplating components such because the seriousness of the offence and which request was made first.

The method for extradition from the UK to Sweden is comparable, besides that begins with a European Arrest Warrant.

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