Assange’s Swedish detention hearing set for June 3

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A Swedish court said on Tuesday it would hold a hearing on June 3 to decide whether to issue a detention order for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on suspicion of rape, the first step toward seeking his extradition from Britain to Sweden.

The Uppsala district court said it had taken “both the requirement of a speedy procedure and the right for the suspect to prepare his defense” into consideration when setting the hearing date.

Swedish deputy director of public prosecutions Eva-Marie Persson on Monday filed a request with the court to have Assange, currently imprisoned in Britain, detained in his absence over a 2010 rape allegation.

Detaining someone in their absence is a standard part of Swedish legal procedure if a suspect is outside the country or cannot be located.

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

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

Following his arrest Swedish authorities last week decided to reopen a 2010 rape investigation, which had been closed in 2017 when Sweden’s then director of public prosecutions Marianne Ny argued that since Assange could not be reached, it was not possible to proceed with the probe.

If the Swedish court grants the request for a detention order, Persson has said she plans to issue a European Arrest Warrant for Assange and request his transfer to Sweden.

Assange is already the subject of an extradition request from the United States, where he is accused of hacking.

Persson said it would be up to British authorities to decide which country’s request should take precedence.