WikiLeaks Rape Case Reopened

A senior prosecutor in Sweden on Wednesday announced she is reopening an official investigation into a rape allegation against Julian Assange, the Australian cofounder of the whistle-blowing Web site WikiLeaks. She also said a parallel investigation into allegations of "molestation" by Assange will continue, and indicated it might even be expanded.

In an official statement posted on the Web site of the Swedish Prosecution Authority, Marianne Ny, a director of public prosecutions, made the announcement: "There is reason to believe that a crime has been committed. Considering information available at present, my judgement is that the classification of the crime is rape. The basis for further consideration is not sufficient at the moment. More investigations are necessary before a final decision can be made."

As Declassified and other media have reported, the rape allegation first surfaced on a Friday night last month when a junior prosecutor issued a warrant for Assange's arrest. The warrant was canceled the next morning when a more senior prosecutor examined the case file and ruled there was insufficient evidence for the case to proceed. However, that prosecutor also decided that a parallel investigation into an allegation of "molestation" against Assange would continue, and later instructed police to interview Assange about it. Assange agreed to the interview, which a spokeswoman for prosecutors said occurred earlier this week.

Claes Borgstrom, a lawyer for two Swedish women whose interviews with police led to the opening of the Assange probe, had told Declassified he believed the rape investigation should be reopened and that he would appeal the decision to close it to a higher authority. Ny's decision to reopen followed Borgstrom's submission appeal.

Borgstrom confirmed to Declassified last week that his clients' allegations relate to efforts by Assange to have sex without condoms, and his subsequent refusal to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. One of the more thorough accounts of the women's stories—apparently based on a censored copy of the original police report—was published earlier this week by London's Daily Mail.

In its official statement, the prosecution authority said the continuing molestation investigation of Assange now "will be extended to include all allegations in the original police report ... There is reason to believe that a crime has been committed. Based on the information available, the crimes in question come under the heading of sexual coercion and sexual molestation, respectively."

Ny, Borgstrom, and Assange's lawyer in Sweden could not be reached immediately for additional comment. In Twitter messages and media comments, Assange has denied any involvement in sex abuse and suggested that the Swedish investigation might have been instigated by foreign powers, although he also told one Swedish newspaper that he had "never, whether in Sweden or in any other country, had sex with anyone in a way that is not founded on mutual consent." 

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