Swedish prosecutors drop Julian Assange rape investigation after all options are ‘exhausted’
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When Julian Assange entered the Ecuadorian Embassy in June 2012, it was to avoid the prospect of Swedish extradition. In 2010, when the Swedish court requested his extradition, it was to question him in regards to charges of sexual assault and rape. Now, the Swedish director of public prosecutions, Marianne Ny, has decided that the Swedish court will be dropping their preliminary investigation into a charge of rape against the WikiLeaks founder.
Julian Assange will not be handing himself in after all
Prosecutors in the case say they have “exhausted” all possible options in the case and as a result have “discontinued” the investigation. Marianne Ny, Sweden’s director of public prosecutions, said the case may not be over in the future though. “If he, at a later date, makes himself available, I will be able to decide to resume the investigation immediately,” she said.
The choice to drop the investigation comes in the wake of a letter sent by the Ecuadorian government, on May 12, claiming that the Swedish government demonstrated a “lack of initiative” to finish the investigation and that there had been a “serious failure” by the prosecutor.
A second allegation of sexual assault against Julian Assange, made by a different woman, was dropped in 2015 as the statute of limitations had expired.
Assange maintains his innocence in relation to all allegations. He claims his refusal to accept extradition to Sweden in 2012 was grounded in the risk of further extradition from Sweden to the United States, where he is wanted in connection to espionage charges from WikiLeaks documents. In 2010, in collaboration with publications such as the The Guardian, WikiLeaks released more than a quarter of a million classified cables from US embassies. The documents were leaked to the whistleblowing organistion by Chelsea Manning, who was released from military prison this week after being commuted by Barrack Obama.
Recently, US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, announced that arresting Assange is a “priority” in terms of controlling leaks of classified information. However, Barry Pollack, Assange’s lawyer, denies he has any knowledge of impending prosecution.
“We’ve had no communication with the Department of Justice and they have not indicated to me that they have brought any charges against Mr Assange,” he told CNN.
Despite the prosecuted being ended, Assange may not yet be leaving the embassy where he has been for around five years. WikiLeaks claims that the focus now lies on the UK government.
Following the statement from the Swedish prosecutors, London’s Metropolitan Police said it will continue to enforce outstanding warrants.
“The priority for the MPS must continue to be arresting those who are currently wanted in the Capital in connection with serious violent or sexual offences for the protection of Londoners,” the force said in a statement.
The MPS added “the situation has changed” but MPS stated that Assange is still wanted “for a much less serious offence.” The MPS have stated they will provide a “level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence.”