- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Swedish prosecutors on Tuesday secured a court date to make their case for taking custody of jailed WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange on suspicion of rape.

A detention hearing sought by Swedish prosecutions pursuing Mr. Assange has been set for June 3, the Uppsala District Court announced in a statement.

“The Court has taken into consideration both the requirement of a speedy procedure and the right for the suspect to prepare his defense, when deciding the date for the hearing,” the court said in a statement.

The hearing was scheduled a day after the Swedish Prosecution Authority submitted an application to the court seeking an order to detain Mr. Assange on probable cause, setting the stage for a possible bilateral tug-of-war over the Australian-born WikiLeaks founder.

Mr. Assange, 47, was arrested in London on April 11 and is fighting extradition to the U.S., where he has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking. He had been under investigation in Sweden since 2010 on suspicion of rape, and prosecutors recently renewed that probe ahead of the statute of limitations expiring next year.

Eva-Marie Persson, deputy director of public prosecution in Sweden, asked the district court on Monday to have Mr. Assange detained in absentia, and a ruling in her favor could complicate efforts for U.S. counterparts also seeking his extradition.

“If the court decides to detain him, I will issue a European Arrest Warrant concerning surrender to Sweden”, Ms. Persson said in a statement. “In the event of a conflict between a European Arrest Warrant and a request for extradition from the U.S., U.K. authorities will decide on the order of priority.

“The outcome of this process is impossible to predict. However, in my view the Swedish case can proceed concurrently with the proceedings in the U.K.,” she said.

Mr. Assange’s lawyers have denied wrongdoing with respect to both the rape and hacking allegations. Convictions of either carry a maximum sentence of four years and five years behind bars, respectively.

The next court hearing concerning the U.S. extradition request is currently scheduled for June 12.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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