Global News

Swedish prosecutor drops rape probe into WikiLeaks' Assange

Swedish prosecutor drops rape probe into WikiLeaks' Assange

The Ecuadorian government is to step up efforts to allow Julian Assange to continue his asylum in its country after a seven-year investigation in Sweden against the WikiLeaks founder was suddenly dropped.

British police said despite Sweden's decision to drop a rape investigation, Assange still faces arrest if he leaves Ecuador's embassy in London.

He sought asylum at the embassy over fears that if he is extradited to Sweden he would be sent onward to the US for prosecution over WikiLeaks' publication of secret documents, including thousands of USA diplomatic cables.

Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny said Friday that her office will drop an investigation into Mr Assange regarding suspected rape, according to an e-mailed statement.

The 45-year-old sought refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in June 2012, after exhausting options in United Kingdom courts to avoid extradition over the allegations stemming from a 2010 trip to Sweden.

According to reports, soon after the news of the Swedish decision broke, Wikileaks tweeted that the focus now moves to the United Kingdom, as it has still not confirmed or denied whether it has received a USA extradition warrant for the websites founder. He said Assange had convinced Swedish prosecutors during a November meeting previous year that he was not guilty of any sex offenses.

Ny told reporters that prosecutors had been unable to make a full assessment of the case and were not making a finding on whether Assange was guilty or innocent of the allegations.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has suggested that the arrest of Assange could be an American priority, saying last month the US was "stepping up our efforts on all leaks".

"The first thing that needs to be done, presumably, is to secure guarantees from the British authorities that he will not be arrested on other grounds", Melinda Taylor, one of Mr. Assange's lawyers, told the Swedish news agency TT, the newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported.

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For example, the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion has been strongly supported by the Liberals but widely opposed by the NDP. The party is not linked to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's federal Liberal Party and is more right-leaning.


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

But it adds that Assange is now wanted for a "much less serious offence" than the original sex crimes claims, and police "will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence".

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.

The long-running case against Mr. Assange had suffered several setbacks. "Focus now moves to United Kingdom", the group tweeted. He said the day marked an "important victory", but noted that he still could be prosecuted by the United States. Until that's confirmed either way, it's unlikely he will risk leaving the embassy.

Mr. Assange says that he has been denied due process during his time at the embassy, and endured "cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment".

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.

"This unnecessary delay was despite the repeated insistence from the Ecuadorian government - ever since the granting of asylum in 2012 - that this interview was not only possible but that Ecuador would facilitate its carrying out in our Embassy". Revelations from those leaks have included a video showing a US Apache helicopter in the Iraq War shooting, killing two journalists, and thousands of behind-the-scenes emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

Towards the end of his presidency, Barack Obama decided she should be freed and the former intelligence analyst was recently released from jail.


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