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28 May, 2019 20:20

Assange’s request to postpone alleged rape hearing due to bad health denied

Assange’s request to postpone alleged rape hearing due to bad health denied

A Swedish court has rejected a request to postpone a hearing on the detention of the WikiLeaks founder. Julian Assange’s lawyers requested the court session be postponed due to their client’s ill health.

Swedish prosecutors reopened a rape case against Assange earlier this month after Assange was hauled from London’s Ecuadorian embassy and jailed for skipping a bail hearing in 2012. The rape investigation was originally dropped in 2017, and Assange has maintained his innocence since the case was first opened.

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The prosecutors filed a request to have Assange detained in absence last week “on probable cause suspected of for rape.” Detention in absence would allow the Swedish government to issue an arrest warrant for Assange.

Swedish defense lawyer Per Samuelson told Reuters on Tuesday that he sought to have the hearing postponed following a visit to Assange in custody on Friday.

“One of the reasons is that Assange's health situation on Friday was such that it was not possible to conduct a normal conversation with him,” Samuelson said. The lawyer said that any hearing should be stalled until Assange could talk the case through with his legal team “in peace and quiet.”

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WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson has said that the rape case against Assange was reopened as a result of “considerable political pressure on Sweden.” Assange is also the subject of a US extradition request, relating to his publication of a trove of classified US military and diplomatic documents in 2010.

American authorities unveiled 17 new charges, including espionage, against Assange last week, and the WikiLeaks founder could face up to 175 years in prison if convicted. British authorities will ultimately have the final say over which extradition request to honor.

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