Sweden has reopened the Julian Assange rape investigation, raising the possibility of a legal tug-of-war between Stockholm and Washington over the WikiLeaks founder. Eva-Marie Persson, Sweden's deputy director of public prosecutions, said Monday that she had decided to reopen the investigation because "there is still probable cause to suspect that Mr. Assange committed rape" in 2010, the BBC reports. Assange, who fled to Ecuador's London embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden and spent the next seven years holed up there, is currently serving a 50-week sentence in a British prison for skipping bail. The US is seeking to extradite Assange for his alleged role in the Chelsea Manning document leak.
Two sex-related allegations against Assange were dropped in 2015 after they expired. In what an Assange lawyer described at the time as a "total victory," the rape case was also dropped in 2017 when authorities decided he would not be extradited to Sweden in the "foreseeable future." A lawyer for the woman in the rape case asked for the investigation to be resumed after Assange was kicked out of the embassy last month, the Guardian reports. Assange has always denied the allegations and WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson says reopening the case will give him a chance to "clear his name." "There has been considerable political pressure on Sweden to reopen their investigation, but there has always been political pressure surrounding this case," Hrafnsson said in a statement. (Read more Julian Assange stories.)