Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Sweden drops rape charge against Wikileaks founder

It's not known if USA officials are seeking Assange's arrest because of a possible sealed indictment. President Donald Trump has said it is "OK" with him if Sessions does that.

Julian Assange says Sweden's decision to drop a rape inveatigation against him is "an important victory for me and for the United Nations human rights system". "I do not forgive or forget".

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.

Mr Assange, 45, is wanted in the USA over the leaking of military and diplomatic documents.

Ecuador's Foreign Minister Guillaume Long celebrated the decision but expressed outrage over the lengthy delays by the Swedish prosecutors in resolving the case.

Assange's Swedish lawyer last month filed a new motion demanding that the arrest warrant be lifted after US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in April that arresting Assange would be "a priority". Long added: "This has gone on long enough".

Swedish prosecutors have dropped their investigation into a rape allegation against Julian Assange, nearly seven years after it began and five years after the WikiLeaks founder sought refuge inside Ecuador's London embassy.

"The truth is, he gave a very good explanation: this was consensual sex between two adults and nothing else".

Samuelson said Sweden's judicial system "spoiled and wasted five, six years of his life. but he is happy today". Elisabeth Massi Fritz says her client is shocked but adds that "she can't change her view that Assange has exposed her to a rape".

Assange, on his part, has made a decision to seek political exile in Emmanuel Macron's France, which has just witnessed a landmark election, voting in the 39-year-old president who has been hailed as the new champion of progressive politics.

On November 14-15, Assange was questioned by an Ecuadorean lawyer at the Embassy of Ecuador in London, in the presence of a Swedish lawyer. At the point when a prosecutor has exhausted the possibilities to continue the investigation, the prosecutor is obliged to discontinue the investigation.

Although the investigation has been dropped, Assange has not been exonerated - and Sweden could reopen the case if he returns to Sweden before the statute of limitations lapses in 2020.

Assange, 45, has always maintained his innocence.

On 14 June 2012, The Supreme Court issued a final decision ordering the surrender of Julian Assange to Sweden.

If the founder of Wikileaks were to walk out of the embassy then British police would still be compelled to arrest him.

The suspect has left the country and, in light of the facts and circumstances of the case, executing the decision to extradite him to Sweden is not expected to be possible within the foreseeable future.

Assange criticised the EU during his speech, and said: "The reality is detention and extradition without charge has become a feature of the European Union".

Mr Assange thanked the government of Ecuador for granting him political asylum despite "intense pressure", as well as his legal team and others who had stood by him.

While Sweden's decision to drop the investigation against Assange will be a huge relief for him, he still runs the risk, should he leave the embassy in London, of extradition to the US where he is wanted for questioning.

"Whilst Mr Assange was wanted on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for an extremely serious offense, the MPS response reflected the serious nature of that crime". In 2015, British police ended a multimillion pound policing operation that included round-the-clock guarding of Ecuador compound.

WikiLeaks says the ball is now in Britain's court after Sweden's decision to drop its rape investigation of Julian Assange.

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

It should be interesting to see how this case develops further, British Prime Minister Theresa May has said, in response to a question about the UK's willingness to support Assange's extradition to the USA, that "any decision that is taken about United Kingdom action in relation to him were he to leave the Ecuadorian embassy would be an operational matter for the police", and her government will look at extradition on a "case by case basis".

United Kingdom police, on the other hand, have insisted that they would still have to arrest the WikiLeaks founder for past violations of bail conditions if he stepped out of the Ecuadorian embassy, where he has been holed up for years.

The announcement means the outspoken WikiLeaks leader no longer faces sex crime allegations in Sweden, although British police say he is still wanted for jumping bail in Britain in 2012.

Sweden's director of public prosecution, Marianne Ny, filed a request to the Stockholm District Court to revoke Assange's arrest warrant that was issued seven years ago.

The day began with the dramatic announcement in Sweden that the rape investigation was being suspended.

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