The Swedish police officer in charge of questioning two women who say they were raped and molested by the founder of WikiLeaks is a friend of one of the alleged victims, a report said on Thursday.
According to the Expressen daily, the unnamed officer had exchanged personal messages with one of Julian Assange's alleged victims over the Internet more than a year before taking statements from her about the claims.
The woman officer, who like the alleged victim referred to by a London court as Miss A was active in the Swedish Social Democratic Party, had also continued posting negative comments on Facebook about Julian Assange, and had voiced support for the lawyer representing the two women, Expressen reported.
"Go Claes Borgstroem!" she wrote in one posting last month, referring to the women's lawyer who had just discussed the case on Swedish public radio, while describing Assange in another post as "the bubble that is ready to burst."
Expressen pointed out that the officer in question must have realised as soon as the two women came in to provide statements last August that one of them was her acquaintance and co-party member, but she had not removed herself from the case and had instead gone on to interrogate the second alleged victim.
Neither of the victims had reportedly wanted to press charges against Assange but had instead gone to the police to find out if they could force him to undergo an HIV test after he had unprotected sex with them, despite their explicit request he use a condom.
According to media reports, it was one of the police officers involved in the interrogations who deemed what they had been through amounted to rape in one case and sexual molestation in another and took the matter to a prosecutor.
It remained unclear Thursday if the friend of the alleged victim was the officer who reported the matter to the prosecutor.
Assange, a 39-year-old Australian former hacker, is awaiting a British appeal hearing on whether he can be extradited over the allegations after a London court last month ruled he could be sent to Sweden.
During those proceedings, Assange's lawyers blasted the Swedish judiciary and claimed the allegations were motivated by anger at WikiLeaks' publication of hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic documents.