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Sweden And Assange


On Thursday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in London. The United States is seeking his extradition in relation to one of the largest-ever leaks of classified material. But some British parliamentarians want Assange to face justice in a different country first.

STAFFAN SONNING: It is a really big story in Sweden.

PFEIFFER: Staffan Sonning is a reporter with Swedish broadcasting. In 2010, Swedish prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Assange on allegations by two women of molestation and rape. Assange denied the allegations. Sonning says the statute of limitations on the rape charge runs out next August, so time is running short.

SONNING: For right now the investigation is closed. But a few days ago, the alleged victim of this rape asked the prosecutor to open the investigation again. And so it's a rather big debate.

PFEIFFER: In 2012, the British Supreme Court ruled that Assange should be extradited to Sweden. It was after this ruling that Assange requested political asylum from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he remained for seven years. But Sonning says many Swedish politicians are hoping Assange does not get sent back there.

SONNING: Because then the hot potato is in Sweden instead. And the question will, of course, arise, will Sweden extradite Julian Assange to the U.S.?

PFEIFFER: Sonning says despite the rape allegation, some Swedes are supportive of the work Assange does with WikiLeaks.

SONNING: It's a very hot issue in Sweden. A lot of people who regard Assange as - still as a hero and that this is an attack on media freedom and freedom of expression. And they regard him as a journalist.

PFEIFFER: Swedish prosecutors say they are now re-examining Assange's case and will decide whether to reopen the investigation. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.