Monday, 29 May, 2017

Sweden drops rape investigation into WikiLeaks founder Assange

Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. Sweden's top prosecutor said Friday The Latest: WikiLeaks awaits UK decision on Assange's status
Kenny Thornton | 20 May, 2017, 01:09

Sweden is set to drop investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on rape allegations, CNN quoted a prosecution statement released on Friday.

The country's director of public prosecutions, Marianne Ny, said the preliminary rape and sexual assault probe has been discontinued. In order to proceed with the case, Julian Assange would have to be formally notified of the criminal suspicions against him.

The Metropolitan police in London issued a statement confirming a warrant for the arrest of Assange still stands following his failure to surrender to the court on 29 June 2012.

Assange announced he was leaving the embassy in 2014 in what proved to be a false start. He said the day marked an "important victory", but noted that he still could be prosecuted by the United States. The charges against Assange were brought by Swedish authorities in August 2010 but were soon dropped.

"That is not something I can forgive, or forget", he said, claiming he had suffered a "terrible injustice" while living under house arrest or hidden away inside the embassy without ever being charged with a crime. On 14 June 2012, The Supreme Court issued a final decision ordering the surrender of Julian Assange to Sweden.

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

"We have been waiting a long time for this decision", Christophe Marchand, a member of Assange's Brussels-based legal team, told AFP.

In 2010, WikiLeaks published over half a million classified U.S. military documents on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

During the most recent USA presidential election campaign, WikiLeaks published emails from Hilary Clinton's staff and the Democratic National Committee which some believe helped to lose her the election. 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). A Swedish prosecutor posed the questions through an Ecuadorian prosecutor.

However, reporters have now gathered outside the Knightsbridge embassy in the expectation he could finally leave after four years and 334 days.

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

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Mueller was appointed Wednesday by Rosenstein, who had faced criticism as the author of a memo that preceded Comey's firing. Rosenstein's decision to name a special counsel seems to have helped redeem his reputation as a nonpartisan operative.

Assange's Swedish lawyer Per E. Samuelson declared Friday that "this is a total victory for Julian Assange".

He also says he would be "happy" to discuss the case with the U.S. Department of Justice despite U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying that arresting Assange is a priority.

Assange's accuser called the prosecutors' decision a "scandal", her lawyer said.

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.

British officials said they do not comment on individual extradition cases.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo said in April that Assange should not be afforded constitutional free speech protections in the U.S.

Marianne Ny, Sweden's director of public prosecutions, said she had made a decision to discontinue the inquiry into the allegation dating from 2010, when the country issued a European arrest warrant for him. "Focus now moves to UK", WikiLeaks said in a tweet after the announcement in Sweden.

He argues that the sex was consensual and has denounced the accusations as "politically motived".

Swedish prosecutors have dropped their rape investigation into the WikiLeaks founder. Prosecutor Eva Finne says there appears to be insufficient evidence for allegation of rape.

She accused him of having sex with her - as she slept - without using a condom despite repeatedly having denied him unprotected sex. Assange has denied the allegations.

"The priority for the MPS must continue to be arresting those who are now wanted in the Capital in connection with serious violent or sexual offences for the protection of Londoners", it added.

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