Thursday, 14 December, 2017

Swedish prosecutor drops rape investigation of Assange

Kenny Thornton | 19 May, 2017, 21:54

Here are key dates in the legal saga of Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who had a rape investigation against him in Sweden dropped by prosecutors on Friday.

Assange, 45, took refuge in Ecuador's embassy in London in 2012 to escape extradition to Sweden to answer questions about sex-crime allegations from two women. He was interviewed by Swedish prosecutors over the allegation - which he denies - previous year.

Ny says she has withdrawn a European arrest warrant. The rape allegation, the more serious claim, remained under investigation.

August 31: Swedish police question Assange, who denies the allegations.

In a statement, Swedish prosecutors said: "Director of Public Prosecution, Ms Marianne Ny, has today made a decision to discontinue the investigation regarding suspected rape (lesser degree) by Julian Assange". Friday was the deadline for the Swedish prosecution to send a request to Stockholm District Court in the Assange case.

Assange is wanted by British police for extradition to Sweden. Assange is released after supporters pledge 240,000 pounds ($375,000) in cash and sureties.

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

November 2: High Court rejects Assange's appeal against extradition.

December 5: Assange granted an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Mr Assange - whose organisation has published confidential documents relating to the United States intelligence services - is the subject of a "very serious criminal investigation" in the United States, officials have previously admitted. "Evidence in the case is available and that evidence should have been tested in court".

June 19: Assange enters Ecuadorean embassy in central London, seeking asylum.

August 16: Assange is granted political asylum by Ecuador. He has been there ever since, fearing that if he was in custody he might ultimately be extradited to the United States for his role at the helm of WikiLeaks, which has enraged governments around the world by publishing tens of thousands of leaked classified USA documents.

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July: Assange loses bid to have an arrest warrant issued in Sweden against him canceled.

September: Assange's lawyers submit a complaint against Sweden and Britain to the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention claiming his situation in the embassy amounts to illegal detention.

Swedish prosecutors offer to question Assange in London. Assange makes a rare public appearance on an embassy balcony.

A lawyer for one of the Swedish women who accused Assange of sexual assault said the prosecution decision to drop the investigation was a "scandal".

August 16: British Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire says Ecuador's decision to harbor Assange had prevented the proper course of justice.

October 12: Metropolitan Police end their 24-hour guard outside the Ecuadorean embassy but say they will use overt and covert means to track and arrest Assange if he leaves. It has been an expensive standoff: Assange's first three-year stay in the Ecuadorean embassy alone cost the British taxpayers £11.1 million ($14.4 million).

The UN panel confirms its view that Assange has been "arbitrarily detained", saying he should be able to claim compensation from Britain and Sweden over his time in the embassy.

January 19: Assange retreats from offer to accept extradition to the USA if Chelsea Manning was granted clemency.

Assange has said that all the sex was consensual.

Ecuador demands that Britain allows Assange to fly to Quito. The rebuke followed Assange's Twitter blast at the losing candidate.

The prosecutor did, however, point out that the investigation "could be reopened if Assange returns to Sweden before the statute of limitations ends in 2020".

Although Sweden has dropped its investigation of rape allegations against Assange, British police say they still intend to arrest him on a charge of jumping bail if he leaves the Ecuadorean Embassy.

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