UK police say Assange still faces arrest

Some legal experts say it makes his position less secure.

Assange sought political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012 and has been living there since, fearing subsequent extradition to the US.

He says says his battle is not over, and "the proper war is just commencing".

Mr Assange faces extradition to the United States for questioning over the activities of WikiLeaks if he leaves the embassy.

Assange's Swedish lawyer Per E. Samuelson declared Friday that "this is a total victory for Julian Assange". He could face trial in the U.S. over leaking hundreds of thousands of secret USA military and diplomatic documents.

The police statement said Assange was previously wanted for "an extremely serious offence" in Sweden and the police presence around the embassy had "reflected the serious nature of that crime".

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

Last month, USA attorney general, Jeff Sessions, said arresting Assange was a priority. We have won the Assange case.

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".

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 U.S. extradition warrant for the websites founder.

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

The news service reports he also called on the allow Assange safe passage back to Ecuador.

A brief statement from Sweden by the prosecutor ahead of a press conference, set for later Friday, read: "Director of Public Prosecution, Ms. Marianne Ny, has today made a decision to discontinue the investigation regarding suspected rape (lesser degree) by Julian Assange". It is not clear if that may change now that the investigation has been dropped. Prosecutor Eva Finne says there appears to be insufficient evidence for allegation of rape.

She accused him of having sex with her as she slept without using a condom despite repeatedly having denied him unprotected sex.

"We don't make any statement of guilty or not", she said.

She claimed the WikiLeaks founder had "evaded all attempts" to transfer him to the Scandinavian country and there was now no reasonable prospect of him attending any future trial in Sweden.

However, the prosecutor revealed that the authority could relaunch the investigation should Assange return to Sweden before 2020.

The preliminary investigation against Julian Assange for rape (lesser degree) is to be discontinued. "We have been waiting a long time for this decision", Christophe Marchand, a member of Assange's Brussels-based legal team, told AFP. "He has been critical that it has lasted that long", Per E Samuelsson, his lawyer in Sweden, told Swedish Radio. Sweden's top prosecutor says she is dropping an investigation into a rape claim against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after nearly seven years.

"The truth is, he gave a very good explanation: this was consensual sex between two adults and nothing else".

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.

August 25, 2011 - WikiLeaks releases thousands of previously unpublished USA diplomatic cables from its cache of more than 250,000 State Department reports.

Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning served seven years in prison for giving classified material to WikiLeaks.

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

Katz reported from London.

  • Leroy Wright