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Watch again: Sweden to reopen preliminary investigation into Julian Assange rape allegation

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Watch again: Sweden to reopen preliminary investigation into Julian Assange rape allegation
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REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
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Swedish state prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson announced Monday that she plans to reopen a preliminary investigation into rape allegations against WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange.

The prosecutor said she would file a European arrest warrant to extradite Assange to Sweden after he has served jail time in the UK.

But the decision on whether to extradite to Sweden would be down to UK authorities, she added.

Assange is also charged in the United States with conspiracy to “commit computer intrusion” by helping former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning with "cracking a password” to access classified documents.

The Swedish prosecutor said she expected the US to file a formal extradition request to the UK in June.

Persson said she would continue the investigation while Assange is in prison in the UK. The statute of limitations on the case expires in August 2020.

WikiLeaks said the case had been "mishandled" by Swedish prosecutors.

Assange was willing to answer questions and "repeatedly offered to do so," WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said.

"This investigation has been dropped before and its reopening will give Julian a chance to clear his name," Hrafnsson added.

Sweden's prosecutors first ordered Assange’s arrest in 2010 after two women accused him of rape and molestation but discontinued the investigation after attempts by the British and Swedish to surrender him to Sweden failed.

Assange spent seven years living at Ecuador’s embassy in London before Ecuador withdrew his asylum last month. Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison in the UK for skipping bail in order to not be extradited to Sweden.

The Swedish Prosecution Authority said in 2017 that the investigation would resume if Assange made himself available.

After the news broke that Assange was in prison, a lawyer for one of the rape victims requested that the Swedish investigation continue.

Persson said Monday that although she would not discuss evidence, she believed there was "probable cause" for the suspicions against Assange.

Sweden had filed an international arrest warrant to detain Assange, and the British courts decided to surrender Assange to Sweden in 2011.

But Assange’s asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London prevented him from being surrendered to Swedish prosecutors. A UN expert panel said in 2016 that the UK and Sweden were arbitrarily detaining Assange.

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