Saturday, 27 November 2021

Prosecution’s request to arrest Wikileaks founder rejected

REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

STOCKHOLM: Assange was arrested in London inside Ecuador’s Embassy in April and sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for jumping bail in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden. Swedish authorities dropped their charges of sexual assault against the whistleblower in 2017, but reopened the case in mid-May.

The Uppsala District Court has rejected prosecutors’ request to detain WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in absentia in the suspected rape case against him, thus blocking prosecution efforts to extradite him to Sweden to face trial.

“One of the reasons for the prosecutor’s office to request an arrest was the need to continue the investigation, but the previous arrest warrant was issued when Assange was at the Ecuadorian embassy, while now he is serving a prison sentence in the UK,” the Uppsala district court’s lead judge said. “Currently, the arrest of Assange in absentia seems to be a disproprtionate measure,” she added.

Earlier, Swedish deputy director of public prosecution Eva-Marie Persson requested Assange’s detention, saying he posed a flight risk. Assange lawyer Per E. Samuelson argued there was no such risk.

The court ruled to hold Monday’s hearing behind closed doors after a request by Assange’s legal team in a move aimed at protecting the whistleblower and the woman whom Assange is accused of raping. Assange maintains his innocence in the case.

Assange’s lawyer said his client would be willing to come to Sweden to cooperate with investigators, and said the whistleblower has nothing to hide.

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