Swedish prosecutor drops rape investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

Elias Hubbard
May 20, 2017

Swedish prosecutors on Friday dropped a rape investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after seven years, NBC News reported.

"Director of Public Prosecution, Marianne Ny, has today chose to discontinue the investigation regarding suspected rape (lesser degree) by Julian Assange", Swedish prosecutors said in a statement.

Assange has spent almost five years inside the Latin American country's London embassy, but he seemed robust and defiant in his brief balcony appearance.

As Assange always predicted, once he was interviewed and prosecutors had to decide whether to pursue the case, it was abandoned.

"To continue with legal proceedings would require Julian Assange's personal appearance in court. Therefore the investigation is discontinued".

Shortly after the Swedish prosecutor's announcement, Assange, who still resides in the embassy, posted the following picture on his personal Twitter account. An global warrant for his arrest was soon issued, but Mr. Assange has repeatedly denied the allegations against him. The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that Assange had been "arbitrarily detained by the Governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".

WikiLeaks claims "victory" after then U.S. president Barack Obama commutes the sentence of Chelsea Manning, a soldier who leaked a huge amount of defence department files published by WikiLeaks, and who is released on May 17.

He also says he would be "happy" to discuss the case with the U.S. Department of Justice despite U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying that arresting Assange is a priority. "My client is shocked and no decision to [end the case] can make her change that Assange exposed her to rape", she said.

"I am entirely innocent", Assange wrote in a 19-page testimony released in December 2016.

Updated at 11.46 UTC to add: Swedish prosecutors apparently made a decision to drop the charges because there is "no reason to believe" he will be surrendered to the country's authorities in the foreseeable future.

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012.

In a tweet, Wikileaks said the "focus now moves to the UK". Assange has indicated concerns that he may face indictment in the United States for his role at the helm of the WikiLeaks. "He has been critical that it has lasted that long", Per E. Samuelsson, his lawyer in Sweden, told Swedish Radio.

"It's not about money but redress", Samuelsson said.

Previously, Assange promised to leave the embassy if Chelsea Manning was granted clemency.

Assange's Australian legal adviser Greg Barns said he would ask the country's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to intervene.

The UK's Home Office was unable to comment on the implications of the decision because of the upcoming election.

Assange has long feared he would be extradited to the U.S. if he was sent to Sweden.

Swedish prosecutors on Friday dropped their investigation, but Assange still faces the risk of arrest in Britain, and he fears he will be extradited to the United States and tried over the leaking of hundreds of thousands of secret USA military and diplomatic documents.

Has the European arrest warrant against Assange been lifted? She also confirmed that Sweden had withdrawn its request for a European arrest warrant against him.

"Westminster Magistrates' Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Julian Assange following him failing to surrender to the court on the 29 June 2012", British police said.

"The priority for the MPS must continue to be arresting those who are now wanted in the Capital in connection with serious violent or sexual offences for the protection of Londoners", it added.

Even though Assange is no longer wanted by Sweden, he remains wanted for the "much less serious offense" of skipping bail in the United Kingdom. "The MPS will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence", the Met said in a statement.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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