Julian Assange Ecuador demands Britain grant WikiLeaks founder 'safe passage'

Elias Hubbard
May 19, 2017

Sweden's top prosecutor said Friday she's dropping an investigation into a rape claim against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after nearly seven years because there's no possibility of arresting him "in the foreseeable future".

Sweden said on Friday it had made a decision to drop its rape investigation.

"The European Arrest Warrant no longer holds".

The Australian, who has lived inside the embassy for nearly five years, said the "road is far from over", adding it was "extremely regretful" he was still being threatened with arrest if he leaves the embassy.

He is wanted by British police for breaching bail conditions - and WikiLeaks is concerned this could result in him being extradited to the USA, where he would face prosecution for publishing swathes of classified military and diplomatic documents.

Taylor added that both British and American authorities have "consistently refused to confirm or deny" if there is a request for extradition to the US.

Ecuador under leftist President Rafael Correa granted Assange asylum in its London embassy in 2012.

Assange said Friday that "my legal staff have contacted the United Kingdom authorities and we hope to engage in a dialogue about what is the best way forward".

The Metropolitan Police force says that there is a British warrant for Assange's arrest after he jumped bail in 2012, and it "is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the embassy".

Outside the U.K., the United States Justice Department is still wrestling with whether to charge Assange for leaking documents that they claim compromised national security, the New York Timesreported.

"This implies that we can now demonstrate that the U.S. has a will to take action. this is why we ask for the arrest warrant to be cancelled so that Julian Assange can fly to Ecuador and enjoy his political asylum", he said at the time.

Assange was arrested by Britain in December 2010 and released on bail while fighting the extradition order to Sweden, a bid that finally failed in June 2012 when Britain's Supreme Court declined to reopen the appeal. "Focus now moves to United Kingdom", the anti-secrecy website tweeted.

British officials said they do not comment on individual extradition cases.

"The UK must now grant safe passage to Mr Julian Assange", Foreign Minister Guillaume Long wrote on Twitter. The South American country has granted him asylum.

Marianne Ny, the Swedish director of public prosecutions announced Friday that she was dropping the rape case because there is no prospect of bringing Assange to Sweden "in the foreseeable future" and it is "no longer proportionate" to maintain the European arrest warrant.

The statute of limitations on the rape allegation was due to expire in August 2020. The rape allegation, the more serious claim, remained under investigation.

She accused him of having sex with her as she slept without using a condom despite repeatedly having denied him unprotected sex.

He argues that the sex was consensual and has denounced the accusations as "politically motived". The authorities, however, said that they were not declaring Assange's innocence but instead conceding they could not leap the legal hurdles presented by Assange's diplomatic protection.

Ny told reporters that the WikiLeaks founder had "tried to dodge all attempts at arrest" by British and Swedish authorities.

In August 2010, Assange arrived in Sweden after USA authorities began to investigate his activities.

Elisabeth Massi Fritz says her client is shocked by the Swedish decision but added that "she can't change her view that Assange has exposed her to a rape". He said Assange had convinced Swedish prosecutors during a November meeting previous year that he was not guilty of any sex offenses. His attorney, Per Samuelson, said "an innocent man proved he was not guilty". WikiLeaks also had a provocative role in the 2016 USA presidential campaign when it published emails written by Hillary Clinton campaign officials.

A spokesman for Britain's Crown Prosecution Service stated this case would be referred to a judge, and he could face a maximum jail term of one year.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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