Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Science | By Hubert Green

Sweden drops rape investigation against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange

Sweden drops rape investigation against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange

Sweden's top prosecutor said Friday she is dropping an investigation into a rape claim against WikiLeaks founder Ju.

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".

Speaking from the balcony of Ecuador's London embassy, the WikiLeaks founder says his seven-year legal ordeal - which he calls unjust detention - "is not something that I can forgive".

The prosecutor, Marianne Ny, told a news conference in Stockholm that she could make no judgment on Assange's guilt or innocence.

(AP Photo/Frank Augstein). A police officer walks past people gathering outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Friday May 19, 2017.

(AP Photo/Frank Augstein). The Ecuadorian national flag flies outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Friday May 19, 2017.

Sweden's top prosecutor says she is dropping an investigation into a rape claim against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after nearly seven years. Through this action, Julian Assange has evaded every attempt to execute the decision to surrender him to Sweden.

British police said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would still be arrested if he leaves the Ecuadorean embassy in London after Swedish prosecutors said on Friday they would drop a preliminary investigation into an allegation of rape against him.

On Friday afternoon, Assange appeared on a balcony at the embassy and described the development as "an important victory". He is free to leave the embassy when he wishes.

But the picture is more complicated than that.

Assange, 45, has been holed up in the embassy since 2012 after skipping bail to avoid extradition to Sweden over the allegation of rape, which he denies.

After that, the investigation stalled.

The Swedish Prosecution Authority said Friday that chief Marianne Ny "has made a decision to discontinue the investigation" and Ny said she will call back the European arrest warrant on Assange.

However, if Assange were to return to Sweden before the statute of limitations for the suspected offenses expires in August 2020, the investigation could be reopened, she said.

The UK government declined to comment Friday on whether the US has asked for Assange's extradition, but last month US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Assange's arrest was a "priority". She says: "We don't make any statement of guilty or not".

Sweden's top prosecutor, Marianne Ny, says she has withdrawn a European arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after concluding that it won't be possible to bring him to Sweden. The maximum sentence for that offense is a year in prison.

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.

Assange and WikiLeaks have repeatedly infuriated US officials with the widespread release of sensitive secret documents related to military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and diplomatic relations around the world.

U.S. President Donald Trump said last month he would support any decision by the Justice Department to charge Assange.

It's not known if USA officials are seeking Assange's arrest because of a possible sealed indictment.

Some legal experts say it makes his position less secure. More serious are the possible charges he faces in the United States for WikiLeaks' aggressive publication of thousands of pages of classified government documents. That is no longer the case.

Lawyer David Allen Green, who has followed the case, tweeted: "Once outside embassy, Assange more at risk from any US extradition attempt than if he had gone to Sweden".

Assange could fight any US extradition request in the British courts, a process that could take years.

Assange added that WikiLeaks would continue regardless of "the threats towards me and my staff" before hailing the release of Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who provided classified information to WikiLeaks in 2010.

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