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Old Case May Return to Haunt Assange

Sexual assault charges in Sweden could be revived against WikiLeaks founder
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2019 12:18 PM CDT
Julian Assange arrives at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on Thursday.   (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)

(Newser) – There may be more than one country looking to extradite Julian Assange now that he's in police custody. The US is already vying to get the WikiLeaks founder on its soil on hacking charges, but Sweden may also soon be in the mix if an investigation into a rape charge against Assange there is re-upped. The BBC reports that Swedish prosecutors are now looking into just that, based on a request from Elisabeth Massi Fritz, the alleged victim's lawyer, who says they're doing "everything we possibly can" to make that happen. That sexual assault charge is why Assange sought refuge in the first place in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London back in 2012, a stay that ended this week when Ecuador withdrew his asylum status. Sweden was apparently taken by surprise about Assange's arrest, per CNN. "This is news to us too," said Ingrid Isgren, Sweden's chief prosecutor.

"What we have been waiting and hoping for since 2012 has now finally happened," Massi Fritz says, per the BBC. "No rape victim should have to wait nine years to see justice be served." Assange has continued to deny the allegation that he raped a woman in Stockholm in 2010, notes the Washington Post. One ex-Swedish prosecutor, however, doesn't think Assange will ever stand trial there. "I think it would be a very uphill task to reopen the investigation in Sweden," Sven-Erik Alhem tells the Swedish news agency TT, via the Guardian. "Testimony usually weakens with time," and it's now been almost a decade since the alleged assault. The statute of limitations on the case expires in 2020. (Meanwhile, folks are concerned about Assange's cat.)

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