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Swedish Court Rejects Request to Detain Assange in Rape Case

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Swedish Court Rejects Request to Detain Assange in Rape Case

  • Court ruling means Sweden won’t seek to extradite Assange now
  • Swedish prosecutor will attempt to question Assange in prison
Prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson comments on the Uppsala District Court's decision not to detain Wikileaks founder Julian Assange during a press briefing in Uppsala, Sweden, on June 3.

Prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson comments on the Uppsala District Court's decision not to detain Wikileaks founder Julian Assange during a press briefing in Uppsala, Sweden, on June 3.

Photographer: Fredrik Sandberg/AFP/Getty Images

Prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson comments on the Uppsala District Court's decision not to detain Wikileaks founder Julian Assange during a press briefing in Uppsala, Sweden, on June 3.

Photographer: Fredrik Sandberg/AFP/Getty Images

Swedish prosecutors were dealt a court setback that may force them to question Julian Assange in the U.K., where the WikiLeaks founder is serving a prison sentence.

The Uppsala District Court ruled Monday that Assange can’t be detained by local prosecutors, who have been contemplating extradition on nine-year-old rape allegations that he denies. That means the only existing request for Assange comes from American investigators, who have charged him with endangering national security.

Assange will need to serve 25 weeks of a 50-week sentence in the U.K. for skipping bail before he can be extradited.

Swedish prosecutors have yet to decide whether to charge Assange, but have said they need to question him before making a decision. They last month reopened the case after Assange was ejected from the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he had sought refuge.

Prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson told reporters following the ruling that the preliminary investigation will continue and that a European investigation order will be issued this month in order to question Assange.

Assange denies the accusations of rape and also contested that there were grounds for detention, his lawyer, Per Samuelson, told the court. There’s no flight risk at the moment since Assange is being held at Belmarsh jail, he said.

The only reason for Sweden to detain Assange would be to try to supersede the U.S. charges, his lawyer said during the court hearing, arguing that Assange could be questioned in prison via a video link. After the hearing, Samuelson described the ruling as a “victory for the defense.”

“He is prepared to cooperate with the Swedish investigation, he wants to clear his name in Sweden, he has nothing to hide,” Samuelson said.

(Updates with comment from Assange’s lawyer.)