Julian Assange must be rueing his bad luck. Ever since the Ecuadorian embassy terminated his asylum, he has been dogged by his past. Presently, Assange is serving a 50-week sentence in jail for violating his bail conditions. Assange, fearing arrest and deportation to Sweden and the US, had taken refuge in the Ecuador embassy in London. Now that he is out of the embassy, Swedish prosecutors have said they are re-opening a sexual assault case against the WikiLeaks founder and will seek his extradition from Britain.

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The Washington Post has reported that on May 13, at a press conference in Stockholm, Eva-Marie Persson, Sweden’s deputy director of public prosecutions, stated that a fresh questioning of Assange is required.

Eviction

Assange had sought refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012 to avoid being sent to Sweden for allegations made against him. He was evicted last month after Ecuador revoked his political asylum.

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The Equador president had accused Assange of leaking private photos. This was after a change of government and when the new president Rafael Correa radically reversed many of his predecessor policies.

Re-opening of investigation

After his eviction from the embassy and subsequent jail term, Sweden has opted to re-open the investigation into the old case. The case had been put in cold storage, as Assange was not available for questioning.

Swedish prosecutors have not yet formally charged Assange. The New York Times has reported that the case pertains to 2010 when a Swedish woman alleged she had been assaulted by Assange. The 47-year-old Australian met the woman in connection during a lecture in August 2010 in Stockholm. Later, she narrated her story to a police officer, who was convinced that an act of impropriety was committed by Assange.

He faces a maximum term of four years in prison if convicted for this offense.

The statute of limitations for this offense has not yet expired. It expires in August 2020. Assange has stated he has done anything wrong and has asserted that the allegations were politically motivated. He has also maintained that the act was consensual.

US extradition

Assange’s woes are compounded by the fact that the US has issued an extradition warrant for him.

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He is alleged to have conspired with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning and hacked the computer from the Pentagon and thus breached the official secrets act.

US and Sweden will have to await the process of British extradition, which, at best, is slow. Assange has the right to appeal if decisions go against him. The entire legal process could take more than a year before any decision on his extradition can be taken.

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Legal battle

A legal battle is coming as the US is keen that Assange is extradited to stand trial. Sweden is also asking for extradition and the British authorities will have to decide which extradition request has precedence.

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