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Swedish court rejects Assange detention request

June 3, 2019

The ruling complicates the process for Swedish prosecutors to request the WikiLeaks founder's extradition. Assange's lawyer has called it a "big victory" as his client tries to clear his name over rape accusations.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives at court in London on May 1, 2019 to be sentenced for bail violation
Image: Getty Images/AFP/D. Leal_Olivas

A court in Sweden on Monday turned down a request from prosecutors to have WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange be detained in absentia.

The Uppsala district court said that while Assange was "a suspect" in the case 2010 rape case, his current detention in a British prison was sufficient.

The Australian's lawyer, meanwhile, described the verdict as a "big victory" for his client

Assange was arrested in April at Ecuador's Embassy in London, where he'd been living since 2012, to avoid an extradition order to Sweden over sexual assault charges.

Swedish prosecutors reopened a rape case against the 47-year-old shortly after he was arrested but Monday's decision complicates the process of having Assange extradited.

He is accused of raping a woman during a visit to the Scandinavian country in 2010. A sexual misconduct case involving a second woman in Sweden was dropped in 2017 after the statute of limitations expired.

Swedish deputy chief prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson said she intends to issue a European Arrest Warrant "concerning surrender to Sweden" if the court approved the request.

Assange wanted in US

Any extradition request to Sweden, however, would have to compete with one from the United States, where Assange faces numerous charges of espionage.

Washington has accused the Assange of conspiring with Chelsea Manning, a former US military intelligence analyst, to publish a trove of classified documents in 2010.

The 47-year-old Australian is currently serving a 50-week sentence at London's Belmarsh prison for skipping bail. Britain will ultimately decide whether to extradite Assange — and where he should be extradited to.

Assange did not take part in a hearing on a US extradition request last Thursday due to undisclosed heath reasons. He is currently in the prison's heath ward.

Nils Melzer, the UN rapporteur on torture, said on Friday that Assange shows signs of "psychological torture" and that he suffers from physical and mental health issues from his years of isolation and persecution.

Charlie Beckett: Assange Arrest a ‘terrible message’ to the world

rs/ng (AFP, dpa)

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