His accuser said it was a "scandal" to drop the investigation, while Assange's lawyer, Per Samuelsson, said it marked a "total victory". For now, he remains in London at the Ecuadorian embassy, a refugee from the great powers of the world who want to punish him for revealing their secrets.
But the picture is more complicated than that. Assange denied any complicity in sex-related crimes and insisted that all sexual contacts had taken place through mutual consent alone and that police had motivated the vindictive women to file a complaint against him.
However, police in London said they were still obliged to arrest Assange if he left the embassy for skipping bail.
After that, the investigation stalled.
There were initially two separate allegations being investigated, but one was dropped in 2015 because the statute of limitations ran out.
Shortly afterwards, he lodged his request for asylum in Ecuador and fled to the country's embassy in London. Last month President Donald Trump said he would support any decision by the Justice Department to charge Assange. "So we don't make any statements on the issue of guilt", she said via a translator. He fled there after he lost a legal battle in Britain against extradition to Sweden, fearing he would be handed over to U.S. authorities due to the publication of top secret diplomatic cables.
Assange was arrested by Britain in December 2010 and released on bail while fighting the extradition order, a bid that finally failed in June 2012 when Britain's Supreme Court declined to reopen the appeal.
He returned into the building which has been his home for nearly five years, without answering questions.
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But it suggested that now that Assange was only wanted for "a much less serious offence" of failing to surrender to a court, it would reduce its level of policing outside the embassy.
One police vehicle with three cops inside was parked outside the embassy early on Friday, with more arriving to control a growing crowd of journalists and photographers.
The 45-year-old Australian has always denied the allegations, which he feared would lead to him being extradited to the United States and facing trial over the leak of hundreds of thousands of secret American military and diplomatic documents.
He cited a comment by new US Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the arrest of Assange would be "a priority".
The news service reports he also called on the U.K.to allow Assange safe passage back to Ecuador.
June: Assange tells journalists he will not leave the embassy even if sex allegations against him are dropped because he fears he will be extradited to the United States. That is no longer the case. The Supreme Court considered the public interest aspect of the investigation, as well as the risk that Julian Assange would evade having legal proceedings against him, to be of continued importance, and took the view that the continued arrest warrant was proportionate despite the amount of time that had passed.
The Ecuadorean embassy, where Assange has resided since losing his appeal against extradition to Sweden in 2012, is surrounded by British police officers 24 hours a day.
WikiLeaks tweeted: "UK refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received a United States extradition warrant for Julian Assange".
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