STOCKHOLM -- A senior Swedish prosecutor is reopening a rape investigation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the latest twist to a case in which prosecutors of different ranks have overruled each other.

The Australian has denied the allegations and suggested they are part of a smear campaign by opponents of WikiLeaks -- an online whistle-blower that has angered Washington by publishing thousands of leaked documents about U.S. military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The case was dismissed last week by Eva Finne, chief prosecutor in Stockholm, who overruled a lower-ranked prosecutor and said there was no reason to suspect that Assange had raped a Swedish woman who had reported him to police.

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

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.

Assange is seeking legal protection for WikiLeaks in Sweden, one of the countries where the group says it has servers. The Swedish Migration Board has confirmed that Assange has applied for a work and residence permit in the Scandinavian country.