Saturday, 18 August, 2018

Sweden Drops Rape Investigation Into Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange

Swedish prosecutors drop rape probe against WikiLeaks's Assange Swedish prosecutors drop rape probe against WikiLeaks's Assange
Francis Olson | 19 May, 2017, 22:03

The Swedish prosecutor's office announced on Friday that an investigation against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for alleged rape has been closed.

That's unclear. Assange suspects there is a secret US indictment against him for WikiLeaks' publication of leaked classified American documents, which has infuriated USA officials.

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

"The only thing preventing Julian from leaving the embassy is a threat from the Metropolitan Police to arrest Julian for breach of bail, for a warrant that no longer exists".

She accused him of having sex with her as she slept without using a condom despite repeatedly having denied him unprotected sex. He said Assange had convinced Swedish prosecutors during a November meeting previous year that he was not guilty of any sex offenses.

Is he facing U.S. charges?

At a news conference in Quito, Ecuador, the country's foreign minister, Guillaume Long, lambasted Swedish authorities for delays in resolving the probe, according to The Associated Press.

The preliminary investigation on Assange, 44, was opened in 2010.

Assange, 45, has been holed up in the embassy for nearly five years.

WikiLeaks' release of classified material has continued unabated during Assange's five years in the Ecuadorean embassy.

The EAW against Assange was formally withdrawn at Westminster magistrates court on Friday morning, the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed.

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The Ecuadorian government is to step up efforts to allow Mr Assange to continue his asylum in its country after Sweden's Director of Public Prosecutions Marianne Ny said she had made a decision to "discontinue" her investigation.

"He's an innocent man and this case has been closed", he said, adding that Assange was "very unhappy" about the long inquiry.

Earlier in May, a lawyer for Assange had filed a request at the Stockholm District Court that the arrest warrant be ended, arguing it should be dropped since the USA has expressed a desire to charge the 45-year-old.

Elisabeth Massi Fritz says her client is shocked by the Swedish decision but added that "she can't change her view that Assange has exposed her to a rape".

"It is a complete victory for Assange".

After the announcement, Assange spoke with the press from the embassy's balcony: "WikiLeaks will continue to its publications". Assange was last questioned by Swedish officials at the embassy six months ago in relation to the case. He is of course happy and relieved.

British police said despite Sweden's decision to drop a rape investigation, Assange still faces arrest if he leaves Ecuador's embassy in London.

The Ecuadorian embassy is now guarded around the clock by London's Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to prevent Assange from escaping.

"Given that the European arrest warrant no longer holds, Ecuador will now be intensifying its diplomatic efforts with the United Kingdom so that Julian Assange can gain safe passage, in order to enjoy his asylum in Ecuador". "Mr Assange remains wanted for a much less serious offence", it said.

"Focus now moves to United Kingdom", a Wikileaks spokesperson said.

Assange, who has always denied wrongdoing, has been holed up at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, in an effort to avoid a Swedish arrest warrant.

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