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Swedish court rejects request to detain Assange over 2010 rape case

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Uppsala (Sweden) (AFP)

A Swedish court on Monday said it considered Julian Assange a suspect in a 2010 rape case but rejected a request to detain him, dashing the prosecutor's hopes of having him swiftly extradited from Britain.

The Uppsala district court said that the fact that Assange was currently in prison in Britain meant he did not need to be formally detained in Sweden to be questioned by Swedish prosecutors.

"As Julian Assange is currently serving a prison sentence, the investigation can proceed with the help of a European investigation order, which does not require Julian Assange's detention (in Sweden). The court therefore does not find it proportional to detain Julian Assange," it said in a statement.

Swedish deputy director of public prosecutions Eva-Marie Persson had argued that the 47-year-old had not cooperated with the Swedish investigation previously, fleeing from an extradition order, and therefore needed to be detained and questioned in Sweden.

The Australian whistleblower, who holed himself up in Ecuador's embassy in London for seven years to avoid a British extradition order to Sweden, was arrested by British police on April 11 after Quito gave him up.

He was subsequently sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for breaching bail conditions when he took refuge in the embassy.

Swedish prosecutors had closed the rape investigation in 2017 as they said they were unable to proceed without access to Assange, but they reopened the case in May after his arrest.

Assange is also facing an extradition request from the United States, where he faces a total of 18 charges.

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