Key events in the Julian Assange legal saga

Alice Summers Ulrich Rippert chair Richard Tyler Chris Marsden and Clara Campos

Swedish prosecutors said Monday they are reopening a rape case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and will seek his extradition after he has served his 50-week prison term in Britain for jumping bail.

Rape charges: Swedish prosecutors filed preliminary charges - a step short of formal charges - after Assange's visit to the Scandanavian country in 2010.

Assange had also faced investigation for a second sex-related allegation in Sweden, which was dropped in 2017 because the statute of limitations had expired.

WikiLeaks said the re-opening of the investigation into the rape allegation will give Assange a chance to clear his name.

Monday's turn of events comes almost two years after prosecutors in Sweden dropped the initial sex crime charges against Assange after he was accused of sexually assaulting two women during a trip to Sweden in 2010.

Assange launched a legal battle against extradition to Sweden from the United Kingdom but when that failed he entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012, requesting political asylum.

Assange, who has denied the sexual assault allegation, is now being held at London's Belmarsh Prison after being found guilty of skipping bail on those same charges.

The United States is also seeking his extradition on charges relating to the public release by Wikileaks of a huge cache of secret documents. The court heard that the extradition process would take "many months".

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"This investigation has been dropped before and its reopening will give Julian a chance to clear his name". Swedish prosecutors say British officials will determine which case takes precedence.

But her lawyer, Elisabeth Fritz, warned that the Swedish prosecutor must move quickly to avoid hitting the deadline of August next year, when it will be 10 years since the offence allegedly took place. His arrest came after Ecuador rescinded Assange's asylum claim due to "repeated violations to worldwide conventions and daily life".

The prosecutor said she would file a European arrest warrant to extradite Assange to Sweden after he has served jail time in the United Kingdom, but that the decision on extradition would be up to the United Kingdom authorities.

The statute of limitations for the rape charges expires in August 2020, giving prosecutors only a few months to convict Assange if he is extradited to Sweden upon release from British prison.

Assange's supporters cast him as a dissident facing the wrath of a superpower over one of the largest compromises of classified information in USA history.

Julian Assange's Swedish lawyer Per E. Samuelsen told The Associated Press on Monday that the decision to reopen the case is "outrageous".

Documents and possessions left behind by Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London will reportedly be handed over to the US government. Assange leaves Sweden for Britain Sept.27. "We both hope that justice will win".

Assange stands accused of sexually assaulting two women in Sweden. The whistleblower denied the accusations, insisting that the sexual relations had been consensual.

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