Sweden reopens Wikileaks founder rape investigation

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Mr Assange has suggested that the allegations are part of a smear campaign against him

A senior Swedish prosecutor has ordered the reopening of a rape investigation into Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Public Prosecutions Director Marianne Ny said there was "reason to believe a crime has been committed" and that the crime was classified as rape.

Last week prosecutors cancelled an arrest warrant for Mr Assange on accusations of rape and molestation, saying he was no longer suspected.

Mr Assange denies any wrongdoing saying the accusations are "without basis".

The decision to re-open the case follows an appeal by a Swedish woman who has accused Mr Assange of raping her.

In a statement about her decision to review the case, Ms Ny said of the rape allegation that "more investigations are necessary before a final decision can be made".

She also said that an accusation of molestation - which is not a sex offence under Swedish law - against Mr Assange should be reclassified and investigated as a case of sexual coercion and sexual molestation.

The statement said Ms Ny would lead the new inquiries.

Sensitive timing

It is the second time a Swedish prosecutor has been overruled by a prosecutor of higher rank in relation to the claims against Mr Assange.

Last week the chief prosecutor for Stockholm quashed an arrest warrant which another prosecutor had pursued against Mr Assange, saying that there was no reason to suspect he had carried out the assault.

Mr Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, has suggested that the allegations are part of a smear campaign by opponents of his whistle-blowing website.

When the rape allegations first emerged, he said their appearance at a time when Wikileaks had been criticised for leaking Afghan war documents was "deeply disturbing".

In July, Wikileaks published more than 75,000 secret US military documents on the war in Afghanistan.

US authorities attacked the leak, saying it could put the lives of coalition soldiers and Afghans, especially informers, at risk.

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