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Top British diplomat says he wouldn't block Assange extradition

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Swedish prosecutor reopened a rape investigation after Assange's arrest

Swedish deputy director of public prosecutions Eva-Marie Persson had told the court that Assange had not cooperated with the Swedish investigation previously, fleeing from an extradition order, and therefore needed to be detained and questioned in Sweden.

Detention in a person's absence is a standard part of Swedish legal procedure if a suspect is outside the country or can not be located, and which would be the first step to having him extradited from Britain.

But it ruled in favour of Assange's lawyer and said a detention order was not "proportionate", given that he is imprisoned in Britain and the prosecution could therefore proceed with the investigation in other ways.

Prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson said she had the "utmost respect" for the court's decision, and her team will now discuss whether to proceed with the prosecution.

Assange's Swedish lawyer, Per E Samuelson, meanwhile argued that a detention order was "meaningless" as Assange was not now a flight risk.

The United States has already requested Assange's extradition on conspiracy charges.

"One of the reasons for the prosecutor's office to request an arrest was the need to continue the investigation, but the previous arrest warrant was issued when Assange was at the Ecuadorian embassy, while now he is serving a prison sentence in the United Kingdom", the Uppsala district court's lead judge said.

A Swedish court has rejected a request to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in absentia, dashing prosecutors' hopes of having him swiftly extradited from the United Kingdom over an allegation of rape.

Swedish prosecutors dropped their rape investigation in 2017 but reopened it after Ecuador rescinded its grant of asylum to Assange in April this year and allowed British police to arrest him. The whistleblower is presently serving a 50-week prison sentence for the 2012 bail skip.

On May 13, Sweden reopened an investigation into the rape allegation against Assange, which he denies. "We will constantly review the state of the investigation", she said.

Alongside the re-opening of the case against him in Sweden, U.S. authorities are expected to continue their efforts to extradite Assange for leaking sensitive information during his time at WikiLeaks and last week unveiled 17 new charges against him, including espionage.

But Professor Melzer warns that if extradited to the US, Mr Assange risks "serious violations of his human rights" and could be jailed for up to 175 years.