Fri, 20 Sep 2019

The Swedish prosecutor heading an investigation into a rape allegation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Monday filed a request for his arrest, the Prosecution Authority said.

The warrant, if granted, would be the first step in a process to have Assange extradited from the UK, where he is serving a 50-week sentence for skipping bail.

Assange skipped bail in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over the sexual assault allegations. He has long claimed the allegations were a pretext for possible extradition to the US, where federal prosecutors investigating WikiLeaks have filed sealed charges against him.

Sweden reopened an investigation into the rape allegation, first made in 2010, on May 13.

The Swedish prosecution Authority had dropped its investigation into Assange in 2017 but in April, the authority said it would review a request by the lawyer representing a woman who alleged she was raped by Assange to reopen a preliminary investigation into the allegation.

Assange was arrested by UK police in April, seven years after he first entered Ecuador's embassy in London seeking asylum.

In April, the judge in London said Assange displayed the "behaviour of a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest".

UK police said they had been "invited into the embassy by the Ambassador, following the Ecuadorean government's withdrawal of asylum".

Assange was arrested upon arrival at a police station on behalf of the US after it requested his extradition, police added.

US federal prosecutors meanwhile charged him with computer hacking and aiding whistle-blower Chelsea Manning, which they said carries a potential five-year prison term.

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