Swedish prosecutors have announced that an inquiry into rape allegations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have been reopened. During a Monday press conference, Sweden's Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Eva-Marie Persson said that circumstances now allow for Assange to be extradited from the UK, where he is currently being held in prison, to Sweden.
The Swedish prosecution then announced it would seek the extradition of Assange after he has served his prison term in the UK, adding that, the whistleblower could not be sent to a third country without London's consent.
In the meantime, WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kistinn Hrafnsson has said that the reopening of the case would give Assange a chance to clear his name.
"Since Julian Assange was arrested on 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. Its reopening will give Julian a chance to clear his name", Hrafnsson said in a statement.
In August 2010, just months before the US announced that there was an "active" investigation into WikiLeaks after it published Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, two women in Sweden came forward with accusations of rape and molestation against Assange.
The Australian-born journalist vehemently denied the allegations, stressing that the sex was consensual, and insisted that the case was politically motivated because it emerged shortly after WikiLeaks dumped US docs.
After Assange fled to London, Sweden demanded that he be extradited to face the allegations there, with UK's Supreme Court ruling in favour of the prosecution in 2012. In an attempt to avoid extradition, Assange, who lost a final appeal in the British court, asked for asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he subsequently spent over seven years.
By August 2015, the statute of limitations had expired on three allegations; the investigation into the "lesser-degree rape", whose statute of limitations is to expire in 2020, remained open until May 2017.
The prosecution dropped the case in 2017, as they said that it didn't seem possible to get him to Sweden in the foreseeable future. Swedish authorities, however, emphasised that the case could be resumed if he visited Sweden before 2020.