British prosecutors admitted they deleted crucial emails relating to the case against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
Assange, 46, has been holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition for rape allegations against him that were filed in Sweden. The country dropped the case and investigation into Assange in May. Assange remained at the embassy, fearing he would be extradited to the U.S. after leaking the Chelsea Manning documents in 2010.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) admitted deleting the important emails between the prosecutors and its Swedish counterparts in 2014, The Guardian reported. The emails were deleted after a CPS lawyer retired.
The news of the deleted emails comes before next week’s tribunal hearing in London.
The lawyer who deleted the emails reportedly asked his Swedish counterparts not to interview Assange in 2010 or 2011. It was not clear why the lawyer advised the Swedes not to visit Assange in London. The Guardian noted the visits could have prevented the embassy’s standoff.
“It is incredible to me these records about an ongoing and high-profile case have been destroyed. I think they have something to hide,” Stefania Maurizi, an Italian journalist who discovered the emails were deleted, told The Guardian. She said she would be seeking more information about the documents through Freedom of Information requests.
Maurizi also was going to CPS on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the case.