Sweden Drops Rape Investigation Into Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange
Sweden Drops Rape Investigation Into Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange
Assange lawyer says dropped case is'end of nightmare
20 May, 2017, 00:01
Julian Assange has signalled he will remain inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London despite the Swedish authorities suddenly dropping a seven-year investigation against him. Assange, 45, believes the United States wants him extradited and arrested in connection with WikiLeaks' publication of classified US documents.
Assange tweeted on Friday that he would not forgive those behind the investigation: "Detained for 7 years without charge while my children grew up and my name was slandered".
Earlier Swedish Chief Prosecutor Marianne Ny said the rape investigation could not proceed because of legal obstacles.
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.
Assange is still wanted in Britain for jumping bail, and London's police service has said he will be arrested if he leaves the embassy, though officials appeared to hint on Friday that this is not a top priority.
Assange added that WikiLeaks would continue regardless of "the threats towards me and my staff" before hailing the release of Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who provided classified information to WikiLeaks in 2010.
The former computer hacker enraged Washington by publishing hundreds of thousands of secret USA diplomatic cables that laid bare often highly critical US appraisals of world leaders from Russian President Vladimir Putin to the Saudi royal family. He has always denied wrongdoing.
Ny says she has withdrawn a European arrest warrant.
The maximum sentence for that offense is a year in prison.
He has been living at the Ecuadoran embassy in London since 2012, and the British police have said they will arrest Assange as soon as he walks out of the embassy because he has broken his conditions for bail - a relatively minor offence under British law - by failing to surrender on June 29, 2012 for extradition to Sweden. Foreign Minister Guillaume Long said Assange was welcome to stay in the embassy if this was not granted. "This is why we ask for the arrest warrant to be cancelled so that Julian Assange can fly to Ecuador and enjoy his political asylum", lawyer Per Samuelsson told AFP at the time.
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Assange said Friday that "my legal staff have contacted the United Kingdom authorities and we hope to engage in a dialogue about what is the best way forward".
U.S. President Donald Trump said last month he would support any decision by the Justice Department to charge Assange, who contends the United States should recognize his First Amendment rights as a journalist.
"We will seek to put some people in jail", Sessions said.
During the most recent USA presidential election campaign, WikiLeaks published emails from Hilary Clinton's staff and the Democratic National Committee which some believe helped to lose her the election. USA intelligence agencies have concluded the Russian government hacked the emails as part of an effort by Moscow to tilt the election in Trump's favour.
The development comes after Assange's lawyers demanded that Sweden drop his European arrest warrant. He was on bail when he arrived at the Ecuador Embassy in Central London nearly five years ago. As I once again stated in a letter to the Swedish state on May 8, Ecuador has regularly criticised the conduct of the Swedish Prosecutor in this case as wholly unacceptable and which has led to unnecessary delays in progressing this case. It is not clear if that may change now that the investigation has been dropped.
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