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

Swedish prosecutor drops rape probe into WikiLeaks' Assange

Swedish prosecutor drops rape probe into WikiLeaks' Assange

Sweden's top prosecutor said Friday she is dropping an investigation into a rape claim against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after nearly seven years.

WikiLeaks said the British government will arrest Assange regardless of Sweden's decision and the government "refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received an extradition request from the United States".

Assange is unlikely to leave the protection of the Ecuadorean embassy immediately, however: he jumped bail in the UK in 2012 and faces the legal consequences of that, and while extradition from the UK is not as easy legally as from Sweden (from where he could be extradited in secret and without proper legal process), the United States - despite claims Wikileaks helped Donald Trump win the presidency - may yet seek to secure him on capital charges relating to the Manning cables.

Police said a warrant was issued against Assange in 2012 after he failed to hand himself in, adding: "The Metropolitan Police Service is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the embassy".

Samuelson tells The Associated Press that "this was consensual sex between two adults and nothing else", adding Assange was now "a free man".

He has been remanded in custody in absentia by Swedish authorities, who issued an arrest warrant relating to a 2010 rape allegation which Assange denies.

"All prospects of pursuing the investigation are now exhausted", she said. In the statement, Assange attacked Marianne Ny for conducting the interview as "a ruse to tick a box to ensure the technical possibility to indict [Assange]".

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On November 20, Interpol issued a Red Notice for Mr Assange's arrest.

May 19: Prosecutor Marianne Ny announces that investigation has been suspended and the European arrest warrant has been withdrawn because she sees no realistic possibility of bringing Assange to Sweden. It was under that warrant that Assange was arrested and briefly imprisoned in the United Kingdom, although the warrant is now no longer accepted by United Kingdom courts.

On Friday, Assange's accuser called the prosecutor's decision a "scandal", her lawyer said on Friday.

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

When the whistleblower fled to the embassy of Ecuador, he broke the terms of his bail conditions following an extradition order by Britain's Supreme Court.

Assange also lashed out at Sweden for taking seven years to investigate allegations he maintained were baseless.

Friday was the deadline for the Swedish prosecution to send a request to Stockholm district court in the Assange case.

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"Director of Public Prosecution, Marianne Ny, has today chose to discontinue the investigation regarding suspected rape by Julian Assange", the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

British police kept up a round-the-clock guard outside the embassy until December 2015, when the operation was scaled back partly because of the costs, which had exceeded 11 million pounds (over $17.5 million at the time).

After the Swedish announcement. It is not clear if that may change now that the investigation has been dropped.

Sweden's top prosecutor dropped a long-running inquiry into a rape claim against Assange on Friday, saying there was no way to detain or charge him "in the foreseeable future" because of his protected status inside the embassy.

Friday's announcement means Assange is no longer under any investigation in Sweden.

Swedish prosecutors received a translation of the interrogation four months later, but "all materials were translated into Spanish then into English then back into Spanish then into Swedish", Ny said, making it hard for the investigation to move forward.

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