Swedish prosecutors to announce decision on Julian Assange rape case next week

Prosecutors dropped investigation in 2017, unable to proceed while WikiLeaks founder was in Ecuadorean embassy

Adam Forrest
Friday 10 May 2019 01:25 BST
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Pamela Anderson: Julian Assange prison visit 'very difficult'

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Swedish prosecutors will announce next week whether they will reopen an investigation into a rape allegation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

The deputy director of public prosecutions Eva-Marie Persson is to hold a press conference in Stockholm on Monday to announce her decision on Assange – sentenced to 50 weeks in prison in the UK earlier this month for a bail violation.

Prosecutors dropped the rape investigation in 2017 because they were unable to proceed while he remained living in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

Assange also faced investigation for a second sex-related allegation, which was dropped in 2015 because the statute of limitations had passed. He has denied both allegations.

A lawyer for one of the women involved asked for the investigation to be resumed, after he was dragged out of the Ecuadorean embassy last month.

A UN official visited Assange on Thursday to assess his treatment in the high security prison where he is being held.

Professor Nils Melzer, the UN’s special rapporteur on torture, went to Belmarsh in south London, and will have meetings on Friday with relevant authorities.

UN human rights experts have already voiced concern about the “disproportionate” sentence given to Assange, as well as his detention in the high-security prison.

Pamela Anderson visited Assange at Belmarsh prison earlier this week
Pamela Anderson visited Assange at Belmarsh prison earlier this week (PA)

Last week the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said it was “deeply concerned” about the sentence imposed on Assange for only “a minor violation”.

He is now wanted for questioning in the US over the activities of WikiLeaks. US authorities have charged him with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, which carries a maximum penalty of five years.

Ben Brandon, the lawyer representing the US at a recent extradition hearing, said there were computer room chats showing real-time discussions between Chelsea Manning and Assange over an attempt to gain access to classified US documents and the public release of the information.

On Tuesday Assange was visited in jail by the US star Pamela Anderson. Wearing a grey blanket emblazoned with words including “free speech”, the actress said it was “very difficult” to see Assange locked up at Belmarsh.

“He does not deserve to be in a supermax prison. He has never committed a violent act. He is an innocent person,” she said.

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