Swedish prosecutor drops rape probe into WikiLeaks' Assange

Julian Assange: Rape investigation against Wikileaks founder dropped
Julian Assange rape charges dropped, but he still faces arrest
Author

20 May, 2017

Chief prosecutor Marianne Ny attends a press conference in Stockholm on Friday May 19, 2017.

While Assange may still not be able to leave Ecuador's embassy in the swanky Knightsbridge area of London, the prosecutor's decision to stop the investigation into allegations of rape brings to an end a 7-year stand-off with Sweden. Sweden's top prosecutor says she is dropping an investigation into a rape claim against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after.

The Swedish prosecutor's office announced on Friday that an investigation against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for alleged rape has been closed. Juan Branco told The Associated Press in Paris that he wants Macron to help Assange leave the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

But the picture is more complicated than that.

The rape allegation against the computer programmer had followed a Wikileaks conference in Stockholm in 2010.

He claimed asylum in Ecuador in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden - and, he feared, from there to the United States, to face trial for leaking secret U.S. military and diplomatic documents.

After that, the investigation stalled.

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

She said the case could be reopened if Assange returns to Sweden before the statute of limitations expires in 2020.

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

"Whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail", Sessions said.

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. But there is also a warrant issued by a British court after he skipped bail in June 2012.

She has since been a supporter of Mr Assange, saying "you may be an enemy of the state but you are not an enemy of humanity" in a video that was released by WikiLeaks to mark Chelsea Manning's release from prison.

"My legal staff have contacted the United Kingdom authorities and we hope to engage in a dialogue about what will be the best way forward", he added, saying he was also "happy to engage" with the US.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange squints in the sunlight as he prepares to speak from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in 2016.

He sought asylum at the embassy over fears that if he is extradited to Sweden he would be sent onward to the USA for prosecution over WikiLeaks' publication of secret documents, including thousands of US diplomatic cables.

Both U.S. and British officials have declined to comment on whether there is a warrant for Assange's arrest. "My assessment is the transfer can not be carried out in a foreseeable future", Ms Ny told reporters.

Some legal experts say it makes his position less secure. Until Friday, Britain was bound to honor Sweden's extradition request before any warrant from the United States.

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

Mr Assange has not set foot outside the building for five years, ultimately fearing he could end up being extradited to the United States over Wikileaks' publishing of classified information.

Assange could fight any USA extradition request in the British courts, a process that could take years. In that time, WikiLeaks has continued to release classified information, prompting an espionage investigation in the USA that still hangs over Assange. On Friday, the group released what it said were new details of Central Intelligence Agency cyberespionage tools.


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