The rape allegations center around two women, dubbed ‘AA’ and ‘SW’ in media, who both claim they had sexual encounters with Assange in 2010 and who say the contact went beyond what they had consented to. SW claimed she was half asleep during one encounter, while AA said she would not have consented to sex “if she had known that [Assange] was not wearing a condom.”
Assange has always insisted that allegations of rape are false and offered in the past to travel to Sweden for questioning on condition that the government could guarantee he would not be extradited to the US. He also offered to be questioned in London.
Here, RT.com looks at the timeline of events which led to Monday’s decision to reopen the case.
Timeline of events
August 20, 2010
A 26-year-old living in Enköping and a 31-year-old living in Stockholm accuse WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of having unprotected sex with them which surpassed the level of consent they had given him.
After a preliminary investigation, then-Chief Public Prosecutor Eva Finné said she did not believe there was reason“to suspect that he has committed rape,” but Assange remained under suspicion of molestation.
The investigation was partly suspended five days later on August 25, but the pair’s lawyer appealed the prosecutor’s decision and the Director of Public Prosecution, Marianne Ny, reopened the primary investigation soon after on September 1, 2010.
Less than one month later, on September 27, 2010, Assange left Sweden for the UK.
An arrest warrant for Assange was issued on November 18, 2010 by Ny on suspicion of rape, three counts of sexual molestation and one count of unlawful coercion.
A European Arrest Warrant was issued by the Stockholm District Court, but this was later appealed and lowered to suspicion of rape of a lesser degree. One of the molestation charges was also dropped.
Assange’s legal team argued that the use of the word “rape” was a mistranslation from Swedish and that the allegations made by the women did not fall under the English or European legal definitions of rape.
An extradition warrant was upheld on February 24th, 2011 and again later in November 2011 after an appeal. Assange was then refused permission to appeal the decision in the British Supreme Court in December.
He sought refuge at Ecuador’s Embassy in London on June 19, 2012.
In the months and years that followed, Assange’s legal team filed multiple requests to dismiss his detention, to force Swedish prosecutors into action to either continue or drop the case, and finally, to have the decision to reopen the case overruled.
In 2013, Sweden attempted to drop the extradition warrant, but was prevented from doing so by the English Crown Prosecution Service.
On November 20, 2014, the Swedish Court of Appeal refused the Assange team’s request to have the case dismissed.
Later, in August 2015, the statute of limitations ran out for the lesser charges of molestation and unlawful coercion. The rape allegation is not subject to the statute of limitations until 2020, however. Chief Prosecutor Ingrid Isgren interviewed Assange in relation to this charge in November 2016.
On May 19, 2017 the Swedish chief prosecutor unexpectedly dropped the investigation into the allegation of rape against Assange.
Speaking to reporters on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy at the time, Assange called the situation a “terrible injustice.”
“Seven years without charge while my children grew up without me: that is not something I can forgive. That is not something I can forget,” he said.
2019 arrest and reopening of case
Two years later, following worsening relations with the Ecuadorian government, Assange’s asylum was revoked and British police were invited into the nation’s London embassy to arrest the whistleblower on April 11, 2019.
Immediately following the arrest, the lawyer of Assange’s two accusers announced that she would request the case be reopened.
On Monday, May 13, the Swedish Prosecutor’s office announced that the case was officially reopened and that it would again seek Assange’s extradition to face trial.
Meanwhile the US is also seeking to extradite the whistleblower on charges that he conspired with Chelsea Manning to hack a Pentagon computer and steal state secrets.
The Swedish prosecutor said that it is up to UK authorities whether the Swedish or US extradition requests take priority. Assange potentially faces the death penalty if convicted of the charges he faces in the United States.