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Julian Assange: Sweden drops rape investigation

May 19, 2017 10:10 AM
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Julian Assange: Sweden drops rape investigation

Sweden's director of public prosecutions has decided to drop the rape investigation into Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Marianne Ny filed a request to the Stockholm District Court to revoke his arrest warrant, apparently ending a seven-year stand-off.

Mr Assange, 45, has lived in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012, trying to avoid extradition.

He could face trial in the US over the leaking hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic documents.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) in London said after the news was announced that it remained obliged to arrest Mr Assange on the lesser charge of failing to surrender to a court should he leave the Ecuadoran embassy.

Mr Assange's Swedish lawyer, Per Samuelson, said the prosecutor's decision on Friday represented "a total victory" for his client.

At a press briefing on Friday, Ms Ny said that by remaining in the embassy in London Mr Assange had evaded the exercise of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) that would have seen him extradited to Sweden.

She said: "It is my assessment that the transfer cannot be made in a reasonable timeframe."

Ms Ny said that without the possibility of Ms Assange appearing in person in court there was no point continuing.

But she added: "If he were to return to Sweden before the statute of limitation on this case expires in August 2020, the preliminary investigation could be resumed."

She said it was "regrettable we have not been able to carry out the investigation", and added: "We are not making any pronouncement about guilt."

The rape allegation followed a Wikileaks conference in Stockholm in 2012. Mr Assange always denied the allegations against him, saying sex was consensual.

After the news was announced on Friday, Wikileaks tweeted that the "focus now moves to the UK", saying the UK had "refused to confirm or deny whether it has already received a US extradition warrant for Julian Assange".

The Metropolitan Police Service in London issued a statement saying that its actions had been based on a response to a "European Arrest Warrant for an extremely serious offence".

It went on: "Now that the situation has changed and the Swedish authorities have discontinued their investigation into that matter, Mr Assange remains wanted for a much less serious offence. The MPS will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence."

Last month, Mr Samuelson filed a new motion calling for his client's arrest warrant to be lifted.

Mr Samuelsson told Agence France-Presse: "This implies that we can now demonstrate that the US has a will to take action... this is why we ask for the arrest warrant to be cancelled so that Julian Assange can fly to Ecuador and enjoy his political asylum."

Source: bbc.co.uk

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