Swedish Prosecutors Interview New Witnesses in Assange Case

STOCKHOLM (AFP) — Swedish prosecutors have interviewed two new witnesses in probing a 2010 rape allegation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the Prosecution Authority said Monday.

It said seven witnesses have been interviewed over the summer.

“We have mainly reinterviewed those individuals who were interviewed in 2010, although two of the persons interviewed have not previously been interviewed,” deputy director of public prosecution Eva-Marie Persson said.

The Swedish investigation concerns events of August 2010, when a Swedish woman accused Assange of rape, after meeting him at a WikiLeaks conference in Stockholm.

Assange, 48, has always denied the allegation.

The statute of limitations in the case expires in August 2020.

“Once we have analyzed the interviews, I will decide how to proceed with the case. The investigation may then be discontinued or I may decide to conduct further inquiries,” Persson said.

“If I make the assessment that the next step is to interview Julian Assange, I will issue a European Investigation Order, in which case I shall write to the British authorities with a request to conduct an interview,” she added.

Assange has been held at a top-security British prison since April after police dragged him out of the Ecuadoran embassy in London, where he had been holed up since 2012 to avoid an extradition order to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning.

Assange was subsequently sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for breaching bail conditions during his refuge in the embassy.

After his arrest, Swedish authorities reopened their 2010 investigation, which had been closed in 2017 with the argument that it was not possible to proceed with the probe, as Assange could not be reached.

Prosecutors then asked a Swedish court to order Assange be detained in Sweden to facilitate their investigation. But the court refused the request, saying he was already imprisoned in Britain and their investigation could proceed in other ways.

Assange is also the subject of a U.S. extradition request, where he is facing 18 charges, most of which relate to obtaining and disseminating classified information, specifically, military documents and diplomatic cables through the website WikiLeaks.

He could be sentenced to 175 years in prison if convicted on all 18 counts.

© Agence France-Presse

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