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Swedish prosecutor drops rape probe into WikiLeaks' Assange

19 May 2017, 11:07 | Darnell Patrick

Swedish prosecutor drops rape probe into WikiLeaks' Assange

Swedish prosecutor drops rape investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

Julian Assange has signalled he will remain inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London despite the Swedish authorities suddenly dropping a seven-year investigation against him.

Director of Public Prosecution Marianne Ny announced in a statement that she "has chose to discontinue the investigation regarding suspected rape" by Assange.

Although Sweden has withdrawn its request for a European arrest warrant, The Guardian reports that Ny maintained the probe could be reopened if he returns to Sweden before 2020, a date set by statute of limitations.

He has been living at the Ecuadoran embassy in London since 2012, and the British police have said they will arrest Assange as soon as he walks out of the embassy because he has broken his conditions for bail - a relatively minor offence under British law - by failing to surrender on June 29, 2012 for extradition to Sweden. Now that the situation has changed and the Swedish authorities have discontinued their investigation into that matter, Mr Assange remains wanted for a much less serious offence.

"As a result of the decision to discontinue the investigation, the prosecutor has reversed the decision to detain him in his absence and withdrawn the EAW (European Arrest Warrant)". "The Metropolitan Police Service is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the embassy". British Prime Minister Theresa May said Friday that "any decision that is taken about United Kingdom action in relation to him (Assange) would be an operational matter for the police".

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".

Scotland Yard stood down the 24/7 police presence outside the Ecuadorian Embassy building in 2015 but pledged to make "every effort" to arrest Mr Assange if he left.

"But it by no means erases seven years of detention without charge under house arrest and nearly five years here in this embassy without sunlight", Assange said.

Assange is wanted by British police for extradition to Sweden.

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Friday's announcement means Assange is no longer under any investigation in Sweden.

Mr Assange has not set foot outside the building, ultimately fearing he could be extradited to the United States over Wikileaks' publishing of huge amounts of classified information.

June 19, 2012- Assange takes refuge in Ecuador's embassy in London and asks for political asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden.

Mr Assange previously said he would go to the USA if Wikileaks' source Chelsea Manning was granted clemency.

WikiLeaks tweeted after the Swedish announcement: "UK refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received a USA extradition warrant for Julian Assange".

Julian Assange's Swedish lawyer Per E. Samuelson says it is a "day of victory" for the WikiLeaks founder after Sweden's top prosecutor dropped an investigation into a rape claim against him. "Focus now moves to United Kingdom", the group tweeted.

The transgender former U.S. intelligence analyst left Fort Leavenworth on Wednesday, months after Barack Obama commuted her 35-year sentence as one of his final acts as President.

The investigation was dropped days after Chelsea Manning, who provided WikiLeaks with classified intelligence on Iraq and Afghanistan that shocked the world, was freed from prison.

It ends a three-year police operation which is estimated to have cost more than 12 million pounds ($17 million).



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