World

Julian Assange probe dropped by Swedish prosecutors

Julian Assange probe dropped by Swedish prosecutors

Sweden's top prosecutor on Friday dropped an investigation into a rape claim against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after nearly seven years, saying that's because there's no possibility of arresting him "in the foreseeable future".

Sweden's top prosecutor, Marianne Ny, says she has withdrawn a European arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after concluding that it won't be possible to bring him to Sweden.

The Metropolitan Police Service in London said after the news was announced that it remained obliged to arrest Assange should he leave the Ecuadoran embassy on a lesser charge of failing to surrender to a court, the BBC reported. Assange believes the United States wants him extradited and arrested in connection with WikiLeaks' publication of classified USA documents.

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".

WikiLeaks tweeted: "UK refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received a U.S. extradition warrant for Julian Assange". He said Assange had convinced Swedish prosecutors during a November meeting past year that he was not guilty of any sex offenses.

Mr Assange's lawyer, Per E. Samuelson, told Swedish media that Mr Assange could leave the embassy.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo last month called WikiLeaks a "hostile intelligence service", and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, responding to a question about Assange, said the administration was stepping up its efforts against all leaks of sensitive information.

The police ended their round-the-clock guard outside the embassy in October 2015 but said they were strengthening a "covert plan" to prevent his departure.

U.S. President Donald Trump said last month he would support any decision by the Justice Department to charge Assange. The letter demanded that Sweden guarantee that Assange won't be extradited to a third country.

But it added that Assange is now wanted for a "much less serious offense" than the original sex crimes claims, so police "will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offense".




She told a press conference in Stockholm that the investigation could be reopened if Mr Assange returns to Sweden before the allegation against him elapses under Swedish law in August 2020.

WikiLeaks complained about the lack of clarity in Assange's legal situation. "Focus now moves to the UK", WikiLeaks tweeted.

Friday's announcement means Assange is no longer under any investigation in Sweden.

British officials said they do not comment on individual extradition cases.

A British government source would not confirm or deny if the United States had made a request to extradite Assange until an arrest had been made.

Ecuador's government asked the United Kingdom to give Mr Assange safe passage in order to allow him asylum in the South American nation.

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. It is not clear if that may change now that the investigation has been dropped.

Assange has said the sex was consensual. Revelations from those leaks have included a video showing a US Apache helicopter in the Iraq War shooting, killing two journalists, and thousands of behind-the-scenes emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

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


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