Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Assange lawyer says dropped case is 'end of nightmare'

Assange lawyer says dropped case is 'end of nightmare'

Sweden is dropping its investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on rape allegations, according to a prosecution statement released Friday.

The Swedish Prosecution Authority said in a statement Friday that Marianne Ny "has chose to discontinue the investigation".

Ecuador's Foreign Minister Guillaume Long celebrated the decision but expressed outrage over the lengthy delays by the Swedish prosecutors in resolving the case.

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.

Britain and the United States have an extradition treaty, so if Assange leaves the Ecuadorian Embassy where he's claimed asylum, the British could arrest him and send him to the US.

Out of four sex crimes allegations against Assange, three - unlawful coercion and two counts of sexual molestation - expired in 2015 due to statutes of limitations under Swedish law, while the investigation for the remaining rape allegation, which had an expiration date of 2020, was dropped on Friday.

October 24 - Assange says WikiLeaks will have to stop publishing secret cables and devote itself to fund-raising.

November 20, 2014 - A Swedish appeals court upholds a lower court's rejection of an appeal by Assange to revoke the detention order, but called on prosecutors to make more effort to question him.

At a press conference Friday in Stockholm, Ny, chief of the Swedish Prosecution Authority, said she "has made a decision to discontinue the investigation" and call back the European arrest warrant for 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.

"This has gone on long enough", Long said.

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At a press conference in Quito, Long called on Britain allow Assange safe passage so he could take up his asylum in Ecuador.

"In view of the fact that all prospects of pursuing the investigation under present circumstances are exhausted, it appears that it is no longer proportionate to maintain the arrest of Julian Assange in his absence". They surfaced after the women accused Assange of sexual misconduct during a visit to Stockholm in 2010.

"As a result of the decision to discontinue the investigation, the prosecutor has reversed the decision to detain him in his absence and withdrawn the EAW (European Arrest Warrant)". She says: "We don't make any statement of guilty or not".

Despite the welcome news from Sweden, police in London said Friday that Assange is still wanted there for jumping bail in 2012. But he also believes the United States wants to extradite him to face charges related to WikiLeaks' publication of classified American documents.

A lawyer for the woman who alleges she was raped by Julian Assange says "it is a scandal that a suspected rapist can avoid the judicial system and thus avoid a trial in court".

Police kept up round-the-clock guard outside the embassy until past year, when the operation was scaled back.

WikiLeaks tweeted after the Swedish announcement: "UK refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received a U.S. extradition warrant for Julian Assange. Focus now moves to United Kingdom".

Mr Assange was questioned six months ago in the presence of Swedish officials, who faced criticism for the length of time it has taken to make a decision. It is not clear if that may change now that the investigation has been dropped.

"That is not something I can forgive, or forget", he said, claiming he had suffered a "terrible injustice" while living under house arrest or hidden away inside the embassy without ever being charged with a crime.

The day began with the dramatic announcement in Sweden that the rape investigation was being suspended.

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