Swedish Prosecutors Drop Rape Investigation Of Julian Assange Based On A Technicality

Swedish prosecutors just announced that they are dropping the rape investigation against Julian Assange, the cofounder of Wikileaks. But it isn't yet clear if Assange will leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London any time soon.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in a file photo from 5 February 2016 (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

"Director of Public Prosecution, Marianne Ny, has today decided to discontinue the investigation regarding suspected rape (lesser degree) by Julian Assange," Swedish prosecutors said in a statement.

Under Swedish law, today was the deadline for the Swedish authorities to decide whether they should renew or drop the arrest warrant for Assange originally issued in August 2010. But Swedish prosecutors said that if Assange visits Sweden before the statue of limitations expires in August of 2020, he could still be subject to arrest.

"We don't make any statement on the issue of guilt," Ny said in a press conference today when pressed by an Associated Press reporter about whether the charges were being dropped on a technicality. Prosecutors said that simply, "there is no reason to believe that the [extradition] to Sweden can be executed in the foreseeable future."

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012. His self-imprisonment came on the heels of a rape investigation against him in Sweden involving two women. Assange has denied the allegations. He has also refused to leave the embassy, fearing extradition to the United States.

Previously, Assange promised to leave the embassy if Chelsea Manning was granted clemency. Manning had her sentence commuted by President Obama on his way out of office and was released earlier this week, but Assange reneged on his promise. Assange insisted that the only reason Obama released Manning was to make Assange look like a liar.

Ecuadorian prosecutors interviewed Assange in November 2016 and Swedish investigators interviewed Assange in March of 2017, both in London. But in a press conference today, the Swedish authorities said that they can't expect Ecuador to assist them, and that it is "now not possible to take any further steps that would move the investigation forward".

"In view of the fact that all prospects of pursuing the investigation are now exhausted, it appears that, in light of the views expressed by the Supreme Court in its assessment of the proportionality in this case, it is no longer proportionate to maintain the arrest of Julian Assange in his absence via a European Arrest Warrant," Ny said today at the press conference and in a statement.

More or less, they just gave up. Journalists in the room asked rather pointed questions about whether this case would encourage others charged of sex crimes that evading arrest was their best option.

Assange, an Australian citizen, tweeted a photo of himself smiling after the news from Sweden broke.

But officials in Britain could still nab him if he tries to set foot outside of the Ecuadorian Embassy any time soon. The US Justice Department still mulling charges against Assange, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said that prosecution of organisations like Wikileaks is a "priority".

"We are going to step up our effort and already are stepping up our efforts on all leaks," Sessions said at a press conference last month. "This is a matter that's gone beyond anything I'm aware of. We have professionals that have been in the security business of the United States for many years that are shocked by the number of leaks and some of them are quite serious."

After the statement Assange's lawyers argued that the warrant could be dropped so that Assange could fly to Ecuador to live as a free man.

"This implies that we can now demonstrate that the US has a will to take action... this is why we ask for the arrest warrant to be cancelled so that Julian Assange can fly to Ecuador and enjoy his political asylum," lawyer Per Samuelsson told news outlets last month.

British Police issued a statement today that Assange was still wanted in Britain on less serious charges. The charges still pending against Assange involve failing to surrender to a British court on 29 June 2012 -- essentially jumping bail.

"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," the Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement. "The MPS will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence."

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Comments

    Cant wait for another of his patented "I am a political prisoner, I kicked a giant mouse in the butt, do I need to draw you a picture?" type speech. After Wikileaks got involved and tried to sway two democratic based elections by choosing a side, I kinda lost all respect for them. Cant say I had much for Assange in the first place. Snowdon however, is a hero.

      Snowdon is a traitor for the rest of us. You must be Russian.

        Exactly how is he a traitor? He told us about a government conducting ILLEGAL operations on a wide spread scale.

        And unlike Assange he didn't do blanket, uncensored release. He went out of him way to make sure the information was ordered and tried to mitigate the damage and risk to innocent people. (Unlike Wikileaks everytime. So exactly how is he a traitor? Whistleblower for sure but traitor, hardly

      As much as i disliked what wikileaks leaked during the US Election, Could you imagine how people would react if they found out wikileaks had held back that info on the US Democrats during the election? Wikileaks would be destroyed.

      Wikileaks had an obligation to release that info and im glad they did. US Democrats needed a good kick up the bum. They got to complacent thinking Donald Trump could not win.

        They had info on both parties and only released it for one. It's pretty clear based on what he's said that he has a vendetta against Clinton.
        Fair enough that he feels badly towards her after how aggressively the Americans under her pursued him and tried to discredit him, but trying to influence an election in favour of Turmp and lying about the source of the intelligence (the Russians) was beyond the pale.
        He was already on shaky ground with some of the crap he's done (releasing sensitive info with identifiable names and even credit card numbers on it while claiming they'd scrubbed that from the data), bu with the election leaks he surpassed that. He's just a vindictive turd.

        The only reason to respect him and wikileaks was its absolute impartiality, which was really something to admire, but it's lots all trace of that along with any respect.

          Of course he is. That's all he's ever been. Wikileaks were never benevolent.

          But now that the pendulum has swung against the champions of Wikileaks when it was all Collateral Damage and diplomatic cables, Wikileaks is an enemy despite doing what it's been doing since the first day.

            Wanting Assange to spend the rest of his life in a US prison because he "heads" an organisation that believes in transparency is something I'd expect from a totalitarian regime and not a democratic government.

            Wikileaks can only distribute leaks that are given to it and so cannot be balanced (in the sense of giving both political parties equal coverage).

              Wikileaks had info on both parties but strategically released only that which would harm Assange's perceived enemy (Hillary).
              When a person abuses the great power they have to harm the democratic process of a country over a personal vendetta then I really don't care about them being protected any longer.
              It's a shame, because the wikileaks project started with lofty goals, but it's since become just another sullied tool.
              In the years running up to it though the signs were there: lies about scrubbing personally identifiable info from leaks, and most especially wikileaks members says that Assange was autocratic and using wikileaks as a personal too to get at people. Only now do we know the full extent.

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