Sweden Drops Rape Investigation Against Julian Assange

Julian Assange probe dropped by Swedish prosecutors

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. In a court document seen by Reuters, chief prosecutor Marianne Ny said there were no further avenues to pursue to take the investigation forward.

Assange, who is 45 years old, has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 and has been trying to avoid extradition to Sweden related to the rape charges. 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.

According to reports, in a brief statement by the prosecutor, in this case, said: "Director of Public Prosecution, Marianne Ny, has today made a decision to discontinue the investigation regarding suspected rape by Julian Assange".

Assange 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.

A spokesperson for WikiLeaks claimed the British government "refuses to confirm or deny" whether it has received a USA extradition request, adding: "Focus now moves to United Kingdom".

"If he, at a later date, makes himself available, I will be able to decide to resume the investigation immediately", she said.

Mr Assange's lawyer, Per E. Samuelson, told Swedish media that Mr Assange could leave the embassy.

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.

Although the worldwide sexual assault investigation has now been discontinued, Metropolitan Police said he still faces arrest for the lesser charge of failing to surrender himself earlier in the process. The letter demanded that Sweden guarantee that Assange won't be extradited to a third country.

However, it noted that now the Swedish authorities had dropped their investigation, Assange was "wanted for a much less serious offence" than before and said the force would "provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence".

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However if Assange were to return to Sweden before the statute of limitations for the suspected offenses expires in August 2020, the investigation could be reopened, she said.

Assange has voiced concern that if he traveled to Sweden in relation to the case he would face extradition to the United States over WikiLeaks' publishing of United States military documents. "Focus now moves to the UK", WikiLeaks tweeted.

Ecuador's foreign minister, Guillaume Long, tweeted Friday that Britain "must now grant safe passage" to Assange.

One police vehicle with three cops inside was parked outside the embassy on early on Friday, with more arriving to control a growing crowd of journalists and photographers. He has been there ever since, fearing that if he is arrested he might ultimately be extradited to the United States.

The allegations surfaced after two women accused Assange of sexual misconduct during a visit to Stockholm in 2010.

Assange and WikiLeaks have repeatedly infuriated USA officials with the widespread release of sensitive secret documents related to military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and diplomatic relations around the world.

Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning served seven years in prison for giving classified material to WikiLeaks.

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

The transgender former United States intelligence analyst left Fort Leavenworth on Wednesday, months after Barack Obama commuted her 35-year sentence as one of his final acts as President. It is not clear if that may change now that the investigation has been dropped.

Police kept up round-the-clock guard outside the embassy until previous year, when the operation was scaled back.

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