Rape investigation against WikiLeaks founder reopens

A SENIOR Swedish prosecutor reopened a rape investigation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange yesterday, the latest twist to a puzzling case in which prosecutors of different ranks have overruled each other.

Assange has denied the allegations and suggested they are part of a smear campaign by opponents of WikiLeaks – an online whistle-blower that has angered Washington by publishing thousands of leaked documents about US military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The case was dismissed last week by Eva Finne, chief prosecutor in Stockholm, who overruled a lower-ranked prosecutor and said there was no reason to suspect that Assange, an Australian citizen, had raped a Swedish woman who had reported him to police.

The woman’s lawyer appealed the decision and yesterday Director of Public Prosecution Marianne Ny decided to reopen the case, saying new information had come in on Tuesday.

“We went through all the case material again, including what came in (on Tuesday), and that’s when I made my decision” to reopen the case, she told The Associated Press by phone.

She declined to say what new information had been received or whether Assange would be arrested.

An arrest warrant issued on August 20 was withdrawn within 24 hours as the back-and-forth between prosecutors started.

Ny said “it’s not entirely uncommon” that such reversals take place in Sweden, in particular regarding allegations of sex crimes.

Ny also decided that another complaint against Assange should be investigated on suspicion of “sexual coercion and sexual molestation”. That overruled a previous decision to only investigate the case as “molestation”, which is not a sex offence under Swedish law.

Investigators have not released details about either case, though a police report obtained by the AP shows both women had met Assange in connection with a seminar he gave in Stockholm on August 14.

The report shows they filed their complaints together six days later.

Assange is seeking legal protection for WikiLeaks in Sweden, one of the countries where the group says it has servers.

The Swedish Migration Board has confirmed that Assange has applied for a work and residence permit.

Assange did not immediately respond to the rape case being reopened, and his defence lawyer Leif Silbersky did not answer calls seeking comment.


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