Swedish Court Rules Not to Extradite Assange for Unrelated Crime

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) -
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange puts his fist up as he is taken from court in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should not be extradited to Sweden for an unrelated criminal investigation but should still be questioned in the case while he is imprisoned in Britain, a Swedish court ruled Monday,

The ruling by the Uppsala District Court doesn’t mean the preliminary investigation must be abandoned, only that Assange doesn’t face extradition to Sweden anytime soon.

Eva-Marie Persson, Sweden’s deputy director of public prosecutions, said she has not decided whether to appeal.

“I will also issue a European Investigation Order in order to interview Julian Assange,” Persson said, adding that she hasn’t picked a possible date for the questioning in England.

Assange’s lawyer in Sweden, Per E. Samuelsson, said his client would “be happy, we are happy” to learn he won’t be extradited to Sweden.

The 47-year-old Assange was evicted on April 11 from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had been holed up in political asylum since 2012. He was immediately arrested by British police and is currently serving a 50-week sentence for jumping bail in 2012.

He is also fighting extradition to the United States, which accuses him of violating the Espionage Act by publishing secret documents hacked from the Pentagon containing the names of confidential military and diplomatic sources.

Last week, Assange missed a court session in Britain, reportedly due to health problems.

The unrelated crime allegedly occurred in 2010. Assange has denied wrongdoing, asserting that the allegations were politically motivated.

The statute of limitations for one unrelated crime expired in 2017; the other expires in August 2020. Swedish authorities had shelved the case while Assange was living at the Ecuadorian Embassy since there was no prospect of bringing him to Sweden for questioning.

Assange faces a maximum of four years in prison in Sweden if he is convicted.