The Assange case just hit another snag

The last we heard from Julian Assange involved a year in jail in London on failure to appear charges and a pair of extradition hearings to determine if he could be shipped to the United States. That process was already estimated to last well into next year, but now another complication has arisen. After previously dropping rape charges against him, Sweden is reopening their case against Assange and may want to jump in line in front of us and have him extradited over there first. (CNN)

Sweden will reopen the investigation into an allegation of rape against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the country’s deputy chief prosecutor announced on Monday.

Swedish Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Eva-Marie Persson revealed Sweden would resume proceedings at a press conference in the capital of Stockholm on Monday morning.

The Australian whistleblower was accused of sexual assault and rape by two women in Sweden after visiting the country in August 2010.

The Swedish claim is a little complicated, but they may have a better case than the United States and a reason to get their hands on Assange first. The UK Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that he could be extradited to Sweden and that hasn’t changed, despite his seven-year stay in the embassy. And while the statute of limitations on a sexual assault charge in Sweden has run out, the rape charge hasn’t, but they have to get him into a courtroom by August of 2020. When you add all of that up, Sweden has a pretty strong case and a reason for their claim to be heard before the United States’ request.

That brings us to the matching question back here in the United States. The actions Assange allegedly took while conspiring with (then Bradley) Manning occurred in 2010. Hasn’t the window closed on that one? Andrew McCarthy examined that question last month at National Review and the answer is no better than a definite maybe. The sections of the penal code that would most likely apply here (covering conspiracy and computer fraud) would normally have a five-year statute of limitations. But they contain exceptions for “acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries.”

So it’s possible that we could still get Assange in handcuffs in America, but as McCarthy points out, we’ll have to win the statute of limitations argument twice… once in London and once in Virginia. And assuming Assange has an even marginally competent legal team, that’s not going to be easy at all.