Sweden drops rape investigation into WikiLeaks head Julian Assange
- Author: Leroy Wright May 20, 2017,
May 20, 2017, 9:58
November 14-15 - Assange is interviewed at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Assange had always denied the rape allegation against him, and his accuser said in a statement that she was "shocked" the investigation had ended - describing it as a "scandal".
(AP Photo/Frank Augstein). The Ecuadorian national flag flies outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Friday May 19, 2017.
Sweden has until 2020 to charge Assange with rape.
Chief prosecutor in Sweden Marianne Ny said the investigation had not been able to proceed because of legal obstacles.
Police say an arrest warrant remains active for Assange for breaching his bail conditions, after he failed to appear in court to accept his extradition. The Swedish prosecutor denied costs had played a role in their decision to drop the investigation.
Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange has said he will not forgive or forget the rape allegation or investigation that forced him to seek asylum and stay at Ecuador's embassy in London for five years.
Representing Assange, lawyer Per E. Samuelson proclaimed it a "day of victory" for the WikiLeaks founder.
But the picture is more complicated than that.
Assange was accused of raping one woman and sexually assaulting another during a trip to Sweden in 2010, but fled to the United Kingdom after being released on bail, seeking sanctuary in the embassy.
He then chose to remain in the London embassy as he fears extradition to Sweden would lead to extradition to the United States, where he is wanted over the leaking of hundreds of thousands of secret military and diplomatic documents.
After that, the investigation stalled.
It said: "Whilst Mr Assange was wanted on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for an extremely serious offence, the MPS response reflected the serious nature of that crime".
The rape accusation against Assange dates from August 2010 when an alleged victim, who says she met him at a WikiLeaks conference in Stockholm a few days earlier, filed a complaint.
"The Metropolitan Police Service is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the Embassy", the agency said.
Assange is arrested and held for months while his case progresses, before being given a prison sentence that could reach a maximum of one year.
Ecuador's foreign minister, Guillaume Long, tweeted Friday that Britain "must now grant safe passage" to Assange.
Assange could face a trial in the U.S. over the leaking of hundreds of thousands of secret United States military and diplomatic documents.
"The UK said it would arrest me regardless", he stated.
Today was the deadline for the public prosecutor's office to either renew the pan-European arrest warrant or lift it.
The U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment on Friday's developments. "We can not expect to receive assistance from Ecuador regarding this", Ny said. That is no longer the case.
He fears extradition to Sweden would lead to extradition to the USA where he is wanted over leaks.