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Sweden reopening rape case against WikiLeaks' Julian Assange, will file rival extradition request

Swedish prosecutors reopened a 2010 rape investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Monday and revived an extradition request, complicating the U.S. bid to extradite Assange on hacking-related conspiracy charges. Sweden dropped the rape case two years ago after prosecutors decided that Assange's asylum in Ecuador's London Embassy deadlocked their case. London police arrested Assange, 47, and dragged him from the embassy after Ecuador rescinded its asylum protection in April, after seven years. He is currently serving 50 weeks in a British prison for jumping bail.

Sweden's deputy director of public prosecutions, Eva-Marie Persson, said she has "decided to reopen the investigation" because "there is still probable cause to suspect that Mr. Assange committed rape." The statute of limitations on the rape charges expires in August 2020. Second charges of sexual molestation and coercion were dropped in 2015 after the statute of limitations ran out.

It isn't clear which country's extradition request takes precedence, America's or Sweden's. British legal experts say the matter will probably be decided in the courts or by Britain's secretary of state, and resolution could take years. WikiLeaks editor in chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said Monday that "there has been considerable political pressure on Sweden to reopen their investigation, but there has always been political pressure surrounding this case." Sweden's decision to reopen the rape investigation "will give Julian a chance to clear his name," Hrafnsson said.