Swedish prosecutor drops case against Julian Assange
The decision was made by Sweden‚Äôs director of public prosecution, who confirmed¬†that she decided to discontinue the investigation against the WikiLeaks co-founder.
“Director of Public Prosecution, Ms Marianne Ny, has today decided to discontinue the investigation regarding suspected rape (lesser degree) by Julian Assange,”¬†the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
Ny said the prosecution¬†is not making “any statement of guilty or not” in regards to Assange.
Assange‚Äôs defense lawyer, Per Samuelson, has called the prosecution‚Äôs decision a ‚Äútotal victory.‚ÄĚ
“The preliminary investigation has been dropped and the detention order has been withdrawn, and from Sweden’s point of view this is now over,” he¬†told Reuters.
Assange announced by text message that he is ‚Äúhappy‚ÄĚ about the decision, Samuelson said, according to Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.
Samuelson denied AP‚Äôs request to see Assange‚Äôs text message, but said that his first reaction was ‚ÄúOh my God,‚ÄĚ which he believes were followed with the words ‚ÄúI won everything.‚ÄĚ
However, Ny¬†said the investigation could be reopened if Assange returns to Sweden before the statute of limitations lapses in 2020.
Assange has lived in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, in order to avoid extradition to Sweden over the allegation, which he denies.
Another of Assange’s lawyers, Juan Braco, told AP that he wants French President Emmanuel Macron to intervene to support the WikiLeaks founder and help him leave the Ecuadorian embassy.
‚ÄúWe need a political intervention to make this situation end. He is the only political prisoner in Western Europe,” he said.
The Friday decision comes after Assange‚Äôs Swedish lawyer filed a motion which demanded that the arrest warrant be lifted, after US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in April that arresting the WikiLeaks co-founder would be a ‚Äúpriority.‚ÄĚ
US authorities have been investigating Assange and WikiLeaks since at least 2010, when the site posted thousands of cables stolen by former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
The publication of classified US military and diplomatic documents represents one of the biggest information leaks in American history.
Just days ago, Ecuador voiced concern over the ‚Äúserious lack of progress‚ÄĚ by Sweden in dealing with Assange, citing a ‚Äúserious failure‚ÄĚ by the prosecution to complete the inquiry into the alleged sexual assault.
One of Assange‚Äôs lawyers said earlier on Friday that closing the investigation or lifting the European arrest warrant would not necessarily mean he could easily leave for Ecuador, which has granted him asylum.
‚ÄúThe first thing one likely needs to do is seek guarantees from the British authorities that he won‚Äôt be seized in some other way,‚ÄĚ Melinda Taylor told TT news agency.
Meanwhile, London‚Äôs Metropolitan Police have announced that Assange will still be arrested if he leaves the embassy.
‚ÄúNow 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,‚ÄĚ it wrote in a statement.
Assange is wanted by Britain for skipping bail when he fled to the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012.
Samuelson told AP that Assange is not surprised that the UK is still pursuing him, noting that ‚Äúit‚Äôs been in the pipeline for quite a while.‚ÄĚ
He noted, however, that he believes this question is a ‚Äúminor one which will be solved in the near future.‚ÄĚ
A UN panel stated in February 2016 that Assange had been arbitrarily detained, and that the UK and Sweden should take immediate steps to ensure his freedom of movement.
Assange declared the ruling a “victory that cannot be denied,”¬†while both Britain and Sweden disagreed that he was being denied freedom, as he had entered the Ecuadorian embassy voluntarily.
Originally Published By RT.com