Sweden drops rape probe against Assange
- Author: Leroy Wright May 20, 2017,
May 20, 2017, 22:36
Though Sweden has dropped the charges, the Metropolitan Police have said that the WikiLeaks founder will still be arrested if he leaves the embassy, although he "remains wanted for a much less serious offence", having failed to surrender to the British courts in 2012.
Assange, 45, took refuge there to avoid extradition to Sweden amid fears that he would have been handed over to the U.S. to face prosecution over the publication of classified military and diplomatic documents by WikiLeaks.
Assange hailed Sweden's decision as an "important victory" even as he attacked the country's authorities for detaining him for seven years without charge. "That is not something that I can forgive, it is not something that I can forget".
Assange faces arrest by British police on charges of skipping bail and also fears extradition to the U.S. over WikiLeaks' publication of secret USA military and diplomatic documents.
"It is no longer proportionate to maintain the arrest of Julian Assange in his absence", she said.
But US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last month that "we will seek to put some people in jail", when asked if arresting Assange was a "priority" for Washington.
Assange jumped British bail by entering the embassy and claiming asylum, saying he feared he would eventually be extradited to the United States.
The department said Friday it had no comment on Assange.
It does not clear Assange's name.
Assange has disputed the rape allegations. We have won the Assange case. "The war, the proper war is just commencing", Assange said, noting his lawyers were in touch with British authorities and hoped to begin a dialogue about the "best way forward".
"At this point, it is more apparent than ever that the United Kingdom should provide Assange safe passage to Ecuador".
Assange and WikiLeaks have repeatedly infuriated US officials with the widespread release of sensitive secret documents related to military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and diplomatic relations around the world.
WikiLeaks played a central role in the 2016 presidential race when it published e-mails stolen through hacking the Democratic National Committee and later from Mr John Podesta, chairman of Mrs Hillary Clinton's campaign.
USA prosecutors have been drafting a memo that looks at charges against Assange and WikiLeaks members that possibly include conspiracy, theft of government property and violations of the Espionage Act, according to The Washington Post.
Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning served seven years in prison for giving classified material to WikiLeaks.
A lawyer for the woman who alleged she was raped by Assange said "it's a scandal that a suspected rapist can avoid the judicial system and thus avoid a trial in court".
British police kept up a round-the-clock guard outside the embassy until December 2015, when the operation was scaled back partly because of the costs, which had exceeded 11 million pounds (over $17.5 million at the time).