Sweden has dropped its seven-year old rape investigation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the country’s lead prosecutor said Friday.
BREAKING: Sweden has dropped its case against Julian Assange and will revoke its arrest warrant
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) May 19, 2017
In a statement, Sweden’s public prosecution service said its director Marianne Ny “has today decided to discontinue the investigation regarding suspected rape (lesser degree) by Julian Assange,” adding that more information would be given at a press conference on Friday.
In a note sent to the Stockholm District Court, Ny said she had withdrawn the decision to arrest Assange and discontinued the preliminary investigation.
Significantly, she said Assange’s failure to show up in Sweden and likely future noncooperation were important factors in her decision, noting that “the risk Julian Assange would evade having legal proceedings against him” had been of “continued importance.”
In part because of the fact “that to continue with legal proceedings would require Julian Assange’s personal appearance in court, there is no longer any reason to continue with this investigation,” her note concludes.
However, in a press conference in Stockholm on Friday morning, Ny said that if Assange were to return to Sweden before the statute of limitations for the crime elapses in August 2020, then the preliminary investigation could be reopened.
London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement that they remain obliged to execute a warrant for Assange issued by Westminster Magistrates’ Court following his failure to surrender to the court in 2012, and that Assange “remains wanted for a much less serious offence.” Shortly after the news was announced, Assange tweeted this picture:
The case against Assange began in the summer of 2010, soon after WikiLeaks published the Afghan War Logs leaked by Chelsea Manning. Two WikiLeaks supporters alleged that Assange had failed to use a condom during sex without their consent, and one said he had penetrated her as she slept.
Assange was arrested and given bail by Sweden but refused to return to the country for questioning and possible charging. After losing a series of legal appeals against extradition up to the UK Supreme Court, Assange fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 and claimed asylum.
Assange has long insisted his stay in the Ecuadorian embassy is unrelated to the Swedish case, but instead related to possible extradition to the USA in connection with WikiLeaks’s activities.
Swedish prosecutors pursued a number of allegations of rape and sexual assault, though the sexual assault charges were dropped due to statute of limitation rules in 2015, leaving only a single charge remaining by the time Assange was finally questioned in the Ecuadorian embassy last year.
In February BuzzFeed News revealed Swedish prosecutors had finally obtained transcripts of his interview from Ecuadorian authorities, but that these answers – which Assange had given in English – had all been translated into Spanish.
The prosecuting authority then had to spend weeks retranslating the interviews before evaluating them and reaching its eventual decision to drop the case. Source: buzzfeed