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Both Mr. Reinfeldt and Ms. Ask dismissed suggestions by Mr. Assange’s supporters that the sex allegations are part of a politically motivated conspiracy.

“That’s taken out of thin air. We don’t have that influence and should not have that influence on the judiciary,” Ms. Ask told the AP.

Sweden is well-respected internationally for its democratic and egalitarian society. Transparency International ranks Sweden as one of the least corrupt countries in the world.

Still, even Swedish experts concede there are problems with how the Assange case has been conducted. For example, prosecutors released his name to the media just hours after the investigation was launched.

That is highly unusual, and prosecutors have struggled to explain it. At one point they claimed they didn’t release the name; they just confirmed it to a newspaper that already had it.

Another issue is why they didn’t interrogate Mr. Assange about the rape allegation earlier. He was questioned on Aug. 30 — 10 days after the investigation started — but only about a less serious allegation of harassment.

On the streets of Stockholm, people have mixed feelings about the case.

Karl-Henrik Posse, a 65-year-old horse farmer, said he trusts the Swedish courts to give Mr. Assange due process. “We won’t put him behind bars if he is innocent,” Mr. Posse said.

Fashion merchandizer Carolina Neckelius, 25, wasn’t so sure.

“I don’t think he will get a fair trial here,” she said. “It seems like everyone is against him because of this website, so whatever he does, they will be against him.”

Nils Rekke, head of the legal department at the prosecutor’s office in Stockholm, said he views the criticism against his country’s justice system as “a tactic from the defense.”

He chuckled at the fact that some of Mr. Assange’s supporters have used the term “banana republic” to describe Sweden, a Scandinavian constitutional monarchy.

“Of course that is wrong — both republic and banana,” Mr. Rekke said.

Associated Press writers Malin Rising in Stockholm and Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.