Sweden dropping probe against WikiLeaks founder

Nick Mcbride
May 20, 2017

Prosecutors in Sweden said on Friday that they would drop their investigation into Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who sought refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London five years ago after the authorities in Stockholm opened a preliminary rape inquiry against him.

In a court document seen by Reuters, Ny said there were no further avenues to pursue to take the investigation forward.

British police said despite Sweden's decision to drop a rape investigation, Assange still faces arrest if he leaves Ecuador's embassy in London.

Assange, an Australian national, has previously said that he feared that if he left the embassy he could end up being extradited and face the death penalty in the United States over allegations of revealing hundreds of thousands o secret USA military and diplomatic documents through WikiLeaks, CNN reported.

Prosecutor Marianne Ny said she could not judge whether the 45-year-old Australian native was guilty or innocent because the investigation had been thwarted.

As NPR's Frank Langfitt reports, Assange has remained at the Ecuadorean Embassy for years out of fear that an extradition to Sweden would spell another extradition, in turn, to the USA, "where he could face trial for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret diplomatic and military documents".

A spokesperson for WikiLeaks claimed the British government "refuses to confirm or deny" whether it has received a USA extradition request, adding: "Focus now moves to United Kingdom". He said Assange had convinced Swedish prosecutors during a November meeting previous year that he was not guilty of any sex offenses. Juan Branco told The Associated Press in Paris that he wants Macron to help Assange leave the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

American authorities have prepared charges to seek Arrange's arrest, CNN reported, citing US officials familiar with the matter.

The UK government declined to comment Friday on whether the US has asked for Assange's extradition, but last month US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Assange's arrest was a "priority". But some experts said the development would put him in an even more precarious legal situation, if the USA has a sealed indictment for his arrest. The South American country has granted him asylum, but it is not clear how Assange would travel there without the permission of British authorities.

"Whilst Mr Assange was wanted on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for an extremely serious offence, the MPS response reflected the serious nature of that crime".

Julian Assange's lawyer is asking French president Emmanuel Macron to intervene in support of the WikiLeaks founder. "Focus now moves to the UK", WikiLeaks tweeted. He spoke of Friday's announcement as a "vindication" and an "important victory", thanking the Ecuadorean people but also warning that "the proper war is just commencing".

Assange has always denied the allegation.

WikiLeaks has repeatedly infuriated USA officials with the widespread release of sensitive secret documents related to military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and diplomatic relations around the world.

"This unnecessary delay was despite the repeated insistence from the Ecuadorian government - ever since the granting of asylum in 2012 - that this interview was not only possible but that Ecuador would facilitate its carrying out in our Embassy".

Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning served seven years in prison for giving classified material to WikiLeaks. British Prime Minister Theresa May said Friday that "any decision that is taken about United Kingdom action in relation to him (Assange) would be an operational matter for the police".

The transgender former USA intelligence analyst left Fort Leavenworth on Wednesday, months after Barack Obama commuted her 35-year sentence as one of his final acts as President.

She said the case could be reopened if Assange returns to Sweden before the statute of limitations expires in 2020.

Other reports by VgToday

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER