Prosecutors in Sweden announced Monday that they plan to reopen a rape investigation into WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange that had been officially closed in 2017.
“I have today taken the decision to reopen the preliminary investigation,” Eva-Marie Persson, Sweden’s deputy director of public prosecutions, told reporters Monday. “I take the view that there exists the possibility to take the case forward.”
“There is still a probable cause to suspect that Assange committed a rape,” she added. “It is my assessment that a new questioning of Assange is required.”
The case stems from 2010 allegations that Assange engaged in nonconsensual sex with two women in Sweden during a stay there in 2010.
Assange has always vigorously denied the accusations and maintained his innocence. In a statement, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said the decision by Sweden to reopen the case had been motivated by “political pressure.”
“Since Julian Assange was arrested in 11 April 2019, there has been considerable political pressure on Sweden to reopen their investigation, but there has always been political pressure surrounding this case,” he said.
Authorities in Sweden had been unable to prosecute the claims against Assange as a result of his long residency at the Ecuadorian embassy in London — which protected him both from Swedish law and later on growing calls that be be arrested and indicted for his role in publishing hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee in 2016.
In April, Assange was formally expelled from the embassy, promptly delivered into British custody and ultimately sentenced to an 50 weeks in jail on charges of skipping bail on the rape charge.
The decision by Sweden could complicate efforts to extradite Assange to the United States, where he is facing charges of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to help break a password to a classified U.S. government computer. British authorities will now have to decide which case takes precedence.