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Sweden seeks detention order for WikiLeaks’ Assange

Development sets up a possible standoff between Sweden and the United States over any extradition of Assange from Britain

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COPENHAGEN – Swedish authorities on Monday issued a request for a detention order against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is now in jail in Britain, a Swedish prosecutor said.

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Prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson said if the Swedish court decides to detain Assange “for probable cause suspected of rape … I will issue a European arrest warrant”.

The development sets up a possible standoff between Sweden and the United States over any extradition of Assange from Britain.

Assange was deported last month from the Ecuadorian embassy where he had been held with political asylum since 2012. He was then immediately arrested by British police on April 11 and is currently serving a 50-week sentence in Britain for having escaped bail in 2012.

The Australian secret-giver is also facing a US extradition warrant for allegedly conspiring to hack a Pentagon computer.

Persson said on Monday that British authorities would decide any conflict between a European arrest warrant and a US extradition request for Assange.

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On May 13, Swedish prosecutors reopened a preliminary investigation against Assange, who visited Sweden in 2010, after two Swedish women said they were victims of sex crimes committed by Assange.

While an alleged sexual misconduct case against Assange in Sweden was dropped in 2017 when the statute of limitations expired, a rape allegation remains. Swedish authorities had to suspend him because Assange was living in the embassy at the time and there was no prospect of bringing him to Sweden.

The statute of limitations in the rape case expires in August next year. Assange denied the wrongdoing, saying the allegations were politically motivated and the sex was consensual.

According to the request for a detention order obtained by the Associated Press, Assange is wanted for “intentionally having sex” with an anonymous woman “by improperly exploiting the fact that she was in a state of helplessness because of the sleep “.

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The request added that there was “an aggravating circumstance” because Assange did not use a condom.

The 47-year-old Australian met the two Swedes at a conference in August 2010 in Stockholm. One helped organize an event for the center-left Swedish Social Democratic Party and offered to host Assange in his apartment. The other was in the audience.

A police officer who heard the women’s stories decided there was reason to suspect that they were victims of sex crimes and referred the case to a prosecutor. None of the alleged victims have been publicly named.

Assange faces a maximum of four years in prison in Sweden if convicted of rape.

Persson said the date and time of the detention hearing for Assange at the Uppsala District Court, north of Stockholm, which will make the decision have yet to be decided.

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“However, in my opinion, the Swedish case can run concurrently with the UK proceedings,” Persson said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Assange supporters have gathered outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London to protest what they said was the handing over of his property to US prosecutors. Protesters placed banners on the railings with pictures of Assange with his mouth covered with an American flag, and chanted “Thieves! Thieves! Thieves! Shame on you!”

WikiLeaks said in a statement that Assange’s property, including manuscripts, medical records and electronic equipment, will be turned over to U.S. prosecutors seeking his extradition on Monday.

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