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

Sweden drops rape investigation against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange

Sweden drops rape investigation against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange

Hailed as a hero by supporters and reviled as a manipulator by critics, the white-haired Australian has been holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over rape allegations.

The Wikileaks founder's legal representatives have said that Assange will not leave the Ecuadorian embassy until he receives assurances that he will not be extradited to the US. That is not something I can forgive.

"When he was speaking he talked about another major victory: Chelsea Manning being released from jail 28 years early because her sentence had been commuted".

In a court document seen by Reuters, chief prosecutor Marianne Ny said there were no further avenues to pursue to take the investigation forward.

Swedish prosecutors interviewed Assange at the embassy last November and received a full translation of the interview in mid-March, which they have since been reviewing. She says: "We don't make any statement of guilty or not".

Ecuador, which has granted Assange asylum, says it will step up diplomatic efforts to gain him safe passage to the Latin American country.

Having been placed under effective house arrest over four allegations of rape and sexual assault, and staying at the Norfolk estate of journalist and former British Army officer Vaughan Smith, Assange jumped bail to enter the embassy.

"The decision by the Swedish prosecutor only highlights the fact Mr. Assange has been unlawfully detained for years", Pollack said.

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".

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

As the Swedish investigation continued in December 2010, Mr Assange was jailed in Wandsworth Prison in isolation for 10 days and then put under house arrest for 550 days under powers granted by an worldwide arrest warrant.

Both U.S. and British officials have declined to comment on whether there is a warrant for Assange's arrest. British Prime Minister Theresa May said Friday that "any decision that is taken about United Kingdom action in relation to him (Assange) would be an operational matter for the police". Ecuador has granted Mr. Assange asylum.

"Given that the European Arrest Warrant no longer holds, Ecuador will now be intensifying its diplomatic efforts with the United Kingdom so that Julian Assange can gain safe passage in order to enjoy his asylum in Ecuador".

"To continue with legal proceedings would require Julian Assange's personal appearance in court".

However, Ny didn't rule out the possibility of renewing the investigation, adding, "If he, at a later date, makes himself available, I will be able to decide to resume the investigation immediately".

"The cause [for terminating the investigation] is that he had been avoiding us for so long". But there is also a warrant issued by a British court after he skipped bail in June 2012.

After the announcement by Swedish authorities, Wikileaks tweeted that the "UK refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received a U.S. extradition warrant for Julian Assange. Consequently, there is no basis upon which to continue the investigation". "Focus now moves to United Kingdom", the group tweeted.

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

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