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Swedish Prosecutor Drops Rape Investigation of WikiLeaks Founder Assange

20 Mai 2017

Speaking from the balcony of Ecuador's London embassy, the WikiLeaks founder says his seven-year legal ordeal - which he calls unjust detention - "is not something that I can forgive".

LONDON (AP) - Swedish prosecutors have dropped their investigation into a rape allegation against Julian Assange, nearly seven years after it began and five years after the WikiLeaks founder sought refuge inside Ecuador's London embassy.

"Now that the situation has changed and the Swedish authorities have discontinued their investigation into that matter, Mr Assange remains wanted for a much less serious offence". In 2012, he sought sanctuary in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and has lived in the tiny building ever since.

WikiLeaks' release of classified material has continued unabated during Assange's five years in the Ecuadorean embassy.

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. Although the global sexual assault investigation has now been discontinued, the Met says he still faces arrest for the lesser charge of failing to surrender himself earlier in the process.

Britain and the United States have an extradition treaty, so if Assange leaves the Ecuadorian Embassy where he's claimed asylum, the British could arrest him and send him to the US. Juan Branco told The Associated Press in Paris that he wants Macron to help Assange leave the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

Assange posted a picture of himself smiling broadly to his Twitter account soon after the announcement Friday.

Barry Pollack, an attorney in Washington representing Assange, said the British should allow Assange to travel to Ecuador. Extradition to the United States? The panel found that Britain and Sweden had "arbitrarily detained" Mr Assange.

How did Mr Assange end up where he is?

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Mr Assange claimed the Dreamworks production was based on a "toxic" book and believed the film would "distort events and subtract from public understanding" of his work - after Cumberbatch wrote to him requesting a meeting because he wanted a chance to study Mr Assange's mannerisms.

Dropping the investigation is not a result of deciding he is not guilty, Ny added - it's because there's no practical way to continue it. "So we don't make any statements on the issue of guilt", she said via a translator.

Director of Public Prosecution Marianne Ny announced in a statement that she "has made a decision to discontinue the investigation".

Elizabeth Massi Fritz, the lawyer for Assange's accuser, criticized the Swedish authorities' decision in a statement to CNN. "Evidence in the case is available and that evidence should have been tested in court".

He said the case being dropped was "an administrative decision to stop expending resources" when there was "no clear path to extradition". "To conduct a preliminary investigation for so many years and today make a decision to close the investigation is something I am very critical of", she said. "Nobody wants to be sentenced for rape because it's a bad and humiliating crime", she concluded.

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".

The Metropolitan Police force says that there is a British warrant for Assange's arrest after he juimped bail in 2012, and it "is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the embassy".

It added: "The priority for the MPS must continue to be arresting those who are now wanted in the Capital in connection with serious violent or sexual offences for the protection of Londoners".

Swedish Prosecutor Drops Rape Investigation of WikiLeaks Founder Assange