Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Swedish prosecutor drops investigation into Julian Assange for suspected rape

Swedish prosecutor drops investigation into Julian Assange for suspected rape

People gather outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Friday May 19, 2017.

Mr Assange was also being investigated over sexual molestation and unlawful coercion - but that ended due to a time restriction two years ago.

Director of Public Prosecutions Marianne Ny said she had made a decision to "discontinue" the investigation into an alleged sex offence, although it is unlikely to lead to Mr Assange immediately leaving the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been living for nearly five years.

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.

The country's director of public prosecutions, Marianne Ny, said the preliminary rape and sexual assault probe has been discontinued. Her office will hold a press conference Friday. "I have therefore revoked the decision to detain Julian Assange in his absence".

With a legal cloud hanging over him, Mr. Assange, 45, an Australian, had refused to go to Sweden for fear of being extradited to the United States, and the decision does not mean that Mr. Assange is in the clear. Juan Branco told The Associated Press in Paris that he wants Macron to help Assange leave the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange squints in the sunlight as he prepares to speak from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in 2016.

London's Metropolitan Police said the prosecutor's decision left Mr Assange wanted for a "much less serious offence" and the police "will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence".

"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".

As reporters thronged outside the embassy Friday morning, officials there said that they had no comment and were awaiting instructions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ecuador.

The policing outside the embassy has cost millions of pounds, the source of much criticism in Britain. "In order to proceed with the case, Julian Assange would have to be formally notified of the criminal suspicions against him", the statement reads in part.

Although the global 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. He is of course happy and relieved.

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Prosecutors frustrated by Assange's refusal to return to Sweden for questioning eventually came to London to meet with him at the Ecuadorean Embassy.

Prime Minister Theresa May earlier said any extradition case would be looked at on a "case-by-case basis".

Although he has not been formally charged, Mr Assange has often implied -- without much hard evidence - that the USA would gladly try to assassinate him.

WikiLeaks also had a role in the 2016 US presidential campaign when it published emails written by Hillary Clinton's campaign officials.

"Now that all appeals are exhausted I expect that the United Kingdom and Sweden will comply with their worldwide obligations and set me free", Mr Assange said following the ruling.

"Like all public services, MPS resources are finite". He denounced Mr Assange, who calls himself a champion of transparency in government, as a "narcissist" and a "fraud - a coward hiding behind a screen".

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Russia's role remains the subject of multiple investigations by congressional intelligence committees and the FBI, which has said it's looking into whether any associates of Trump had contact or colluded with Russian government operatives.

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