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Swedish prosecutor drops rape investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

by David Gilbert
May 19 2017, 7:09am

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange tweeted a photo of himself smiling on Friday morning, just minutes after news broke that Sweden’s director of public prosecution is dropping the investigation into an allegation of rape made against him.

Swedish prosecutors announced that a preliminary investigation into a rape allegation against Assange will be discontinued, ending a seven-year legal standoff. “Chief prosecutor Marianne Ny has today decided to discontinue the preliminary investigation regarding suspected rape concerning Julian Assange,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement. Explaining the decision, Nye wrote:

In view of the fact that all prospects of pursuing the investigation under present circumstances are exhausted, it appears that it is no longer proportionate to maintain the arrest of Julian Assange in his absence. Consequently, there is no basis upon which to continue the investigation.”

Though Assange offered no immediate comment, he posted this picture to Twitter which clearly conveyed his reaction to the news:

Assange has always denied the allegations against him. Six months ago, Swedish prosecutors travelled to London to interview the WikiLeaks founder, who has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012 in order to avoid extradition to Sweden.

The official WikiLeaks account — widely thought to be run by Assange himself — tweeted that the “focus now moves to the U.K.,” saying the U.K. had “refused to confirm or deny whether it has already received a U.S. extradition warrant for Julian Assange.”

While Sweden’s decision to drop the investigation against Assange will be a huge relief for him, he still runs the risk, should he leave the embassy in London, of extradition to the U.S. where he is wanted for questioning. In 2010, WikiLeaks published over half a million classified US military documents on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

While no formal charges have been laid against the WikiLeaks founder, it is widely understood that the Department of Justice is preparing charges against Assange. Last month U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that arresting Assange was a priority: “We’ve already begun to step up our efforts and whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail,” he said.

In addition to looming U.S. charges, the Metropolitan police said Friday that a warrant for Assange’s arrest still stands, following his failure to surrender to the court on June 29 2012, adding that the force “is obliged to execute the warrant should he leave the embassy.”

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