Assange changes lawyer in Sweden for second time

AP News
Posted: Nov 17, 2011 1:02 PM
Assange changes lawyer in Sweden for second time

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday asked to change his lawyer in Sweden for the second time since he was accused of sex crimes in the Scandinavian country.

Assange has replaced Bjorn Hurtig with two high-profile lawyers Per E. Samuelson and Thomas Olsson. No explanation was given for the change, though Samuelson acknowledged that he has a long track-record as a defense lawyer in sex crime cases and a thorough knowledge of Sweden's sex-crime law.

Samuelson, who has previously represented one of the four men behind file-sharing web site The Pirate Bay, has been a critic of Sweden's sex crime laws. In an interview with The Associated Press last year, he said the country has come to use "the designation rape in a way no other country uses it."

Assange was accused of rape, coercion and molestation following encounters with two Swedish women in August 2010. Swedish prosecutors have not charged him with any crime, but have demanded that he return to Sweden from Britain to face questions.

On Tuesday Assange made a last effort to stave off extradition to Sweden from Britain, where he is out on bail under virtual house arrest, by filing an appeal request to Britain's highest court.

If his request for a Supreme Court appeal is turned down, he could be extradited to Sweden within 10 days.

Samuelson declined to say when Assange might show up in Sweden.

Olsson has previously represented a Swedish terrorism suspect and is currently involved in seeking retrials for a convicted serial killer.

Last year, Assange replaced his first lawyer Leif Silbersky with Hurtig.