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Swedish prosecutors drop rape investigation involving WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange

19 May 2017 1:46 PM
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Swedish prosecutors drop rape investigation involving WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange

Prosecutor drops Assange rape investigation1:04

Sweden's Director of Public Prosecution has decided to stop a rape investigation into Julian Assange.

SWEDISH prosecutors have ended a seven-year rape investigation into Julian Assange as his alleged victim slams the decision as a “scandal”.

But she concluded that Mr Assange would not be returned to Sweden with co-operation from Ecuador, in whose London embassy Mr Assange has been holed up since 2012.

“My assessment is that the transfer cannot be executed in the foreseeable future,” Ms Ny said.

“Detained for 7 years without charge by (sic) while my children grew up and my name was slandered. I do not forgive ior forget,” he wrote.

The decision also angered the lawyer representing his alleged rape victim.

Lawyer Elisabeth Fritz told the Independent: “It is a scandal that a suspected rapist can disregard the judiciary and thus avoid trial.

“Proof of evidence in the case is available and that evidence should have been tried in court the wait has been long.”

The lawyer said prosecutors should not have “given up the case” before it reached court and accused Mr Assange of deliberately obstructing the judicial process because he was “afraid”.

Juan Branco, a lawyer representing Mr Assange, said he would now seek political asylum in France, though did not elaborate on how he planned to get there without being arrested.

It is still unlikely Mr Assange will leave the Ecuadorean Embassy, where he has been holed up for five years, because the US remains interested in charging him over the release of secret documents.

The statute of limitations on the investigation expires in August 2020, meaning Mr Assange could be prosecuted if he visits Sweden before then.

However is still unlikely Mr Assange will leave the Ecuadorean Embassy because the US remains determined to charge him over the release of secret documents.

Mr Assange, who denies the rape allegations, had always refused to return to Sweden to assist the inquiry, fearing he would then be extradited to the US.

He had infuriated the Americans by publishing half a million secret military documents relating to American operations in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The announcement by the prosecutor’s office, after months of delays, comes one day after the American military officer who released the files to Assange, Chelsea Manning, was released from jail in the United States after serving a seven-year jail term.

Her sentence was commuted by outgoing president Barack Obama in the dying days of his administration.

Mr Assange’s immediate response to the news was to tweet an old photograph of himself inside the embassy, smiling.

Wikileaks tweeted that the arrest warrant from Sweden would now be revoked.

“UK refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received a US extradition warrant for Julian Assange,’’ the group wrote on the social media platform.

The Metropolitan Police issued a statement saying it was “obliged’’ to act on an arrest warrant issued by Westminster Magistrates Court in June 2012 when Mr Assange failed to appear in court and instead disappeared inside the Ecuadorean Embassy.

However, they acknowledged this was a less serious matter and said they would resource it “appropriately,’’ appearing to show little interest in bringing Mr Assange to justice on it. This compares to the 24-hour police response when Mr Assange first hid out in the embassy.

Ecuador does not have extradition agreements with the UK or US and Mr Assange remains out of reach provided he doesn’t leave the embassy, next door to Harrod’s in the exclusive London suburb of Knightsbridge. He occupies a small suite of rooms on the ground floor which he shares with a cat and receives visitors including former Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson, who has hinted the pair are dating.

Mr Assange’s most recent controversy came after Wikileaks published emails hacked from the Democrats during Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful presidential campaign, leading to him being accused of interfering in the US election and assisting Donald Trump’s election campaign.

Mr Trump, who once said “I love Wikileaks’’, has since said it is “okay with me’’ if Mr Assange is charged.

US Attorney-General Jeff Sessions said in April that arresting Mr Assange was a priority.

“We are going to step up our effort and already are stepping up our efforts on all leaks. This is a matter that’s gone beyond anything I’m aware of,” said Mr Sessions.

Mr Assange said several months ago he would agree to the extradition provided Chelsea Manning was released, but gave himself wriggle room by adding: “provided my rights are respected.”


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