Assange v Sweden

In Sweden, 2010, two allegations of rape were made against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. This month, the UK approved his extradition to the United States, where he’ll face trial over the release of thousands of classified documents…

The allegations

On 11th August 2010, Julian Assange arrived in Stockholm for a speaking trip. He and ‘Miss A’ attended a seminar entitled ‘War and the Role of Media’, at which he was a key speaker. The two reportedly had sex that night and, three days later, he reportedly had sex with another woman he’d met at the same seminar, identified as ‘Miss W’. At some point between 17th and 20th August, ‘Miss A’ and ‘Miss W’ were in touch, sharing with a journalist their concerns about aspects of their sexual encounters. Unaware, Assange applied for a residence permit to live and work in Sweden, hoping to build a new Wikileaks base. However, on 20th August, the Swedish Prosecutor’s Office issued an arrest warrant, as both women stated what started as consensual sex had become non-consensual.

The arrest warrant was withdrawn a day later but, under pressure from the two women’s lawyer, Assange was questioned, and the investigation was reopened. By now in London, Assange’s Swedish residency request was denied, and on 20th November an arrest request issued. Assange handed himself in to British police on 8th December and, through the next couple of years, a series of extradition orders and appeals would be issued. It culminated in his asylum at the UK’s Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he would remain out of reach from prosecution for seven years.

The current situation

On 15th August 2015, Swedish prosecutors dropped their investigation into one accusation of sexual molestation and one of unlawful coercion, though more serious allegations remained under investigation. The following year, in an agreement, chief prosecutor Ingrid Isgren was permitted to interview Assange via an Ecuadorian lawyer, though further investigations were dropped in 2018. Finally, after seven years, on 11th April 2019, when Ecuador removed his asylum after a series of interferences, Assange was dragged to the embassy door and handed to British police, who transferred him to a cell during extradition trials, and to pass fifty days in jail for breaching bail conditions.

On 13th May 2019, Swedish prosecutors announced the investigation into one rape allegation would be reopened, and that there was ‘probable cause to suspect’ Assange had committed the rape, but admitted too much time had passed, ending the investigation that November and removing the need for extradition to their country. The United States investigation, however, into the release of thousands of classified documents, which it says put lives at risk, remains open… and with the current ruling, it looks likely Assange will be put on a plane to cross the Atlantic and face justice for separate allegations there.

This article is a Fika Online exclusive.

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