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Sweden reopens investigation into rape claims against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

A senior Swedish prosecutor is reopening the rape investigation into Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. It is the latest twist to a case in which prosecutors of different ranks have overruled each other.

The case was dropped by a Stockholm prosecutor last week who said there was nothing suggesting Assange had raped a Swedish woman who reported him to police.

The woman's lawyer appealed the decision and Director of Public Prosecution Marianne Ny on Wednesday decided to reopen the case.

"There is reason to believe that a crime has been committed...considering information available at present, my judgment is that the classification of the crime is rape," said a statement from Ny.

Ny also said that another complaint against Assange should be investigated on suspicion of "sexual coercion and sexual molestation." That overruled a previous decision to only investigate the case as "molestation," which is not a sex offense under Swedish law.

The woman's lawyer appealed the decision and Director of Public Prosecution Marianne Ny on Wednesday decided to reopen the case.

Assange denies any wrongdoing and said last month he had been warned by Australian intelligence of plans to discredit the whistle-blower website.

His lawyer Leif Silbersky said: "He maintains that he is completely innocent."

Last month Assange dismissed the rape allegations in a statement on WikiLeaks' Twitter page, saying "the charges are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing. We were warned to expect dirty tricks. Now we have the first one."

Mr Assange has no permanent address and travels frequently - jumping from one friend's place to the next. He disappears from public view for months at a time, only to reappear in the full glare of the cameras at packed news conferences to discuss his site's latest disclosure.

The allegations follow WikiLeaks' release last month of 76,000 pages of US documents related to the war in Afghanistan.

Video: 22 August 2010

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