Swedish prosecutors will reopen an inquiry into a rape allegation against WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, weeks after he was dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy in London to face British and U.S. charges.
Assange avoided extradition to Sweden for seven years after he holed himself up at the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012. However, Ecuador revoked its protection of Assange last month and he’s now in British custody and awaiting a U.S. extradition hearing.
He has always denied the rape accusations.
Sweden’s deputy director of public prosecutions, Eva-Marie Persson, announced early Monday that Swedish prosecutors will revisit the sexual-assault investigation two years after it was dropped.
The case was dropped because, at the time, Sweden believed it was impossible to have him extradited to the country. Persson said, now that Assange had been forced from the embassy, it was appropriate to reopen the investigation following a request of the alleged victim's lawyer.
Sweden will now request his extradition after he completes his 50-week prison sentence given to him by British prosecutors for skipping bail. Persson said British authorities will have to decide whether the U.S. or Swedish extradition request takes precedence.
In the U.S., Assange has been charged of illegally helping Chelsea Manning crack a computer password to steal classified documents, in what the Justice Department called one of the largest ever leaks of government secrets.
Persson added that Assange will be interviewed by Swedish prosecutors via video link from his high-security prison in Britain.