Sweden Drops Assange Rape Probe; UK Warns Warrant Still Valid

Vincent Carr
May 20, 2017

The Swedish Prosecution Authority on Friday said it dropped a rape investigation targeting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and will revoke his arrest warrant.

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, after taking refuge there to avoid extradition to Sweden amid fears that he would have been handed over to the U.S. to face prosecution over the publication of classified documents by WikiLeaks. He has been there ever since, fearing that if he is in custody he might ultimately be extradited to the United States.

"This is a total victory for Julian Assange. I do not forgive or forget", he tweeted.

After the announcement by Swedish authorities, Wikileaks tweeted that the "UK refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received a USA extradition warrant for Julian Assange".

April 13 - CIA Director Mike Pompeo calls WikiLeaks a "hostile intelligence service", using his first public speech as spy agency chief to denounce leakers who have plagued US intelligence.

Assange contends the United States should recognize his First Amendment rights as a journalist. "That is not acceptable". Text messages from one of the alleged victims in 2010 had long ago confirmed that "it was the police who made up the charges" against Assange.

Shortly after the announcement, Assange posted a picture of himself smiling broadly, without comment.

Is he facing United States charges?

"We believe the sealed indictment has been prepared". It also means that Assange may now leave the Ecuadorian embassy at any time.

October 12: Metropolitan Police end their 24-hour guard outside the Ecuadorean embassy but say they will use overt and covert means to track and arrest Assange if he leaves.

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

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August 13 - Swedish prosecutors drop investigations into the allegations of sexual assault against Assange because they had run out of time to bring charges but continue with investigations over the rape allegation.

"Mr Turnbull should talk to [Theresa] May about safe passage out [of the UK]", Barns said. Ecuador has granted Mr. Assange asylum.

Though this is a much lesser offense, it remains a possibility that if Assange were to leave the premises of that embassy, he might yet be arrested by British police.

Swedish Chief Prosecutor Marianne Ny said the investigation had not been able to proceed because of legal obstacles.

The prosecutor did, however, point out that the investigation "could be reopened if Assange returns to Sweden before the statute of limitations ends in 2020". "Consequently, there is no basis upon which to continue the investigation".

Assange's Swedish lawyer last month filed a new motion demanding that the arrest warrant be lifted after US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in April that arresting Assange would be "a priority". Minister Patino said that Assange would be prohibited from "making political statements that could affect [Ecuador's] relations with friendly countries". However, in September of the same year, the rape case was re-opened, and a Swedish judge ordered that Assange is detained pending questioning by police.

Fritz said the process had dragged on for too long and that her client was "shocked" by the decision to drop it now. 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]". "Nobody wants to be sentenced for rape because it's a awful and humiliating crime", she concluded.

In addition to looming US charges, the Metropolitan police said Friday that a warrant for Assange's arrest still stands, following his failure to surrender to the court on June 29 2012, adding that the force "is obliged to execute the warrant should he leave the embassy".

The Supreme Court considered the public interest aspect of the investigation, as well as the risk that Julian Assange would evade having legal proceedings against him, to be of continued importance, and took the view that the continued arrest warrant was proportionate despite the amount of time that had passed.

It added: "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".

Other reports by BadHub

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