A top Swedish prosecutor has formally asked for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be detained in absentia over the alleged rape of a woman at her home nearly a decade ago.
This move is seen as the first step in his possible extradition from Britain. The Australian is also facing a U.S. extradition warrant for allegedly conspiring to hack a Pentagon computer.
The deputy director of public prosecutions in Sweden, Eva-Marie Persson, announced her request that Assange should be held on probable cause suspected for rape.
Sweden had recently reopened the 2010 rape case against him.
A rape allegation still remains on Assange, even though a case of alleged sexual misconduct was dropped in 2017 when the statute of limitations expired. Swedish authorities have had to shelf as Assange was living at the embassy at that time and there was no prospect of getting him to Sweden.
The statute of limitations in that case expires next year in August. Assange has denied any wrongdoing and has asserted that the allegations were politically motivated and that the sex was consensual.
Earlier this month, Assange’s Swedish lawyer, Per E. Samuelson told the Associated Press that the decision to reopen the rape case is very outrageous.
Assange was evicted from the Ecuadorian Embassy last month where he had been holed up since 2012. He was arrested by British police on April 11 and is now serving a 50-week sentence for jumping bail in 2012.
Persson said on Monday that the British authorities will think over any conflict between a European arrest warrant and U.S. extradition request for Assange.
She said that in the event of a conflict between a European Arrest Warrant and a request for extradition from the US, the UK authorities will decide on the order of priority.
She added that the outcome of this process is impossible to predict.