Julian Assange hails 'victory' as Sweden drops probe
- Author: Zachary Reyes May 21, 2017,
May 21, 2017, 2:19
Assange had been holed up in the embassy since mid-2012, fearing extradition to Sweden to face the allegation.
The London Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) claims that Assange faces the lesser charge of failing to surrender to a court.
At a press briefing earlier today, Sweden's top prosecutor Marianne Ny said that by remaining in the embassy in London Assange had evaded the exercise of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) that would have seen him extradited to Sweden.
Speaking from the balcony of the Embassy, Assange told reporters, "While today was an important victory and important vindication, the road is far from over". But it by no means, erases seven years of detention without charge, seven years without charge while my children grew up without me.
"Today is an important victory for me and for the UN's human rights system but it by no means erases the years of detention without charge in prison, under house arrest and nearly five years here in this embassy without sunlight, seven years without charge while my children grew up without me".
"My client is shocked, and no closure decision can get her to change that Assange has exposed her to a rape", said her lawyer, Elisabeth Massi Fritz. Police say the next day he faces arrest for breaking the conditions of his bail.
Ecuador on Friday urged Britain to grant Assange "safe passage" out of the country.
WikiLeaks complained about the lack of clarity in Assange's legal situation.
Assange stepped into the daylight on the balcony of Ecuador's embassy in the United Kingdom, where he has been holed up since 2012, to celebrate, but said the road was "far from over".
The allegations surfaced after two women accused Assange of sexual misconduct during a visit to Stockholm in 2010.
British police could arrest him immediately for breaching earlier bail conditions if he left the building, while United States authorities have warned they regard WikiLeaks as a "hostile intelligence service".
The Ecuadorian government is to step up efforts to allow Mr Assange to continue his asylum in its country after Sweden's Director of Public Prosecutions Marianne Ny said she had chose to "discontinue" her investigation.
Asked if London would now support a request to extradite Assange to the United States, British Prime Minister Theresa May said: "We look at extradition requests on a case-by-case basis". "We can not expect to receive assistance from Ecuador regarding this", Ny said. But, should Assange ever find his way back to Sweden-say, before August 2020, when the statue of limitations expires-Ny has said the investigation can immediately resume.
But Swedish officials said the decision only drops the case and is not a ruling on Assange's guilt or innocence. "He has been critical that it has lasted that long", Per E. Samuelsson, his lawyer in Sweden, told Swedish Radio.
British police said that since Assange is now wanted for a "much less serious offense" than the original sex crimes claims, police "will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offense".