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Swedish prosecutor probing Julian Assange rape claim files warrant for his arrest - Daily Mail

20.05.2019, 16:02
Swedish prosecutors have today filed a warrant for the arrest of Julian Assange which could spark an extradition process, as Daily Mail reported. Assange is currently serving a 50-week sentence in the UK for skipping bail but if the warrant is granted it would launch proceedings to bring him to Sweden. Sweden reopened an investigation into the rape allegation, first made in 2010, earlier this month. It comes as United States officials have been given the green light to 'help themselves' to the belongings of Julian Assange left behind in the Ecuadorian embassy in London after his arrest last month. According to WikiLeaks, Ecuadorian officials are today travelling to London to allow US prosecutors to 'help themselves' to items including legal papers, medical records and electronic equipment. Assange's supporters have since launched a protest outside the embassy against the 'illegal seizure'. In Sweden, deputy director of public prosecution Eva-Marie Persson asked Uppsala District Court to detain Assange in his absence. She said: 'I request the District Court to detain Assange in his absence, on probable cause suspected for rape. 'If the court decides to detain him, I will issue a European Arrest Warrant concerning surrender to Sweden'. Assange is also facing extradition proceedings by the United States. Ms Persson added: 'In the event of a conflict between a European Arrest Warrant and a request for extradition from the US, UK authorities will decide on the order of priority. 'The outcome of this process is impossible to predict. However, in my view the Swedish case can proceed concurrently with the proceedings in the UK.' Supporters of Assange have today gathered outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London ahead of the handing over of his belongings to United States prosecutors. WikiLeaks claimed its founder's possessions left from his time living inside the embassy, including legal papers and electronic equipment, were to be removed on Monday. Protesters fixed banners to railings outside the embassy with images of Assange, his mouth covered by an American flag. The small group held up posters with the messages 'Free Assange' and '#FreeSpeech'. One woman shouted towards the building: 'You are stealing Assange's belongings', while others chanted 'Thieves, thieves, thieves, shame on you,' Carolina Graterol, 52, a Venezuelan journalist, said Assange's case set a 'very dangerous precedent to a free press and the right we have to know the truth'. She claimed any seizure of his belongings was 'totally illegal' and 'a breach of his privacy'. 'Obviously the US is looking for evidence to incriminate him in a future case,' she added. Fidel Narvaez, 50, former consul at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, said the treatment of Assange was 'appalling' and 'shameful'. Speaking outside the embassy where he worked between 2010 and 2018, Mr Narvaez said he considered Assange 'my friend' who was 'very respectful' and had a 'good relationship' with embassy staff. He added: 'I feel ashamed of the way the Ecuadorian government is dealing with Julian's case, the way they evicted him, allowing foreign forces to go into the embassy and to drag a political refugee out by force.' Mr Narvaez claimed ongoing 'cooperation' between Ecuador and the US had seen Ecuadorian diplomats interviewed by US prosecutors. He said the handing over of Assange's possessions inside the embassy would be 'immoral' and 'not transparent'. WikiLeaks said United Nations officials and Assange's lawyers were not being allowed to be present during the 'illegal seizure of property', which has been requested by the US authorities. The material is said to include two of Assange's manuscripts. The WikiLeaks founder was arrested and dragged from the embassy by eight policemen to a waiting police van on April 10, as he ranted about Donald Trump and screamed 'the UK has no civility'. The news of the 'illegal seizure' of Assange's personal property was reported by Wikileaks last night. Wikileaks tweeted: 'Ecuador has been sequestering Assange's belongings since his arrest. Now we know why: To hand them over to the US in violation of international law. 'Ecuador's vile behaviour is not new as they have been sending information on Assange to the US for months.' Assange is serving a 50-week prison sentence for bail violations, he faces an extradition request from the US next month. Kristinn Hrafnsson, editor in chief of WikiLeaks said: 'On Monday Ecuador will perform a puppet show at the Embassy of Ecuador in London for their masters in Washington, just in time to expand their extradition case before the UK deadline on 14 June. 'The Trump administration is inducing its allies to behave like it's the Wild West.' Baltasar Garzon, international legal coordinator for the defence of Assange and WikiLeaks, said: 'It is extremely worrying that Ecuador has proceeded with the search and seizure of property, documents, information and other material belonging to the defence of Julian Assange, which Ecuador arbitrarily confiscated, so that these can be handed over to the the agent of political persecution against him, the United States. 'It is an unprecedented attack on the rights of the defence, freedom of expression and access to information exposing massive human rights abuses and corruption. 'We call on international protection institutions to intervene to put a stop to this persecution.'
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