Significant Julian Assange Update Imminent, Say Swedish Prosecutors

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By Kieran Corcoran | 4:39 am, May 18, 2017

Swedish officials investigating accusations of sexual assault against Julian Assange have promised a major update this week.

Prosecutors in the Scandinavian country are due to hold a press conference early on Friday to discuss the saga, which has been running for seven years.

The threat of extradition to Sweden to answer the case – in which two women have said Assange had unprotected sex with them without permission – has kept the Australian activist holed up in a single room in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for almost five years.

Assange, 45, fears that if he goes to Sweden to address the allegations, he will be extradited to the United States and put on trial for leaking government secrets.

He claimed political asylum from Ecuador in June 2012, and has not left the country’s cramped UK embassy since.

Lawyers for Assange are currently demanding that the warrant for his arrest is dropped. Eight previous attempts to achieve this have failed.

There have been no updates from the Swedish authorities since last year, when prosecutors were allowed to question him inside the building.

Since then, Wikileaks has been accused of playing a major role in the US election, and helping to enable to rise of Donald Trump.

Assange also had a wobbly moment earlier this year because of the Ecuadorian presidential election, which could have seen him kicked out of the embassy.

When Rafael Correa’s term as president ended, one successor campaigned on a pledge to kick out Assange if he won the contest.

Despite coming within a whisker of victory, Guillermo Lasso failed to win the vote.

Instead, Correa ally Lenin Moreno took the reins, and has thus far left Assange to his own devices.

The new twist in Assange’s case comes in the same week his highest-profile source, former soldier Chelsea Manning, was released from prison 28 years early.

Manning was due to be locked up until 2045 for espionage, but had her sentence commuted by President Obama just before he left office.

Donald Trump had previously suggested execution was a more fitting penalty for revealing state secrets.