Sweden Drops Case But Assange Still Not In Clear
RFE/RL May 19, 2017
Sweden's top prosecutor has dropped a seven-year investigation into rape allegations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, though he still faces an arrest warrant in Britain and possible extradition to the United States.
While the move halts the proceedings in Sweden, Ny added it was not "any statement of guilty or not" and that the investigation could be reopened should Assange return to the country before the statute of limitations expires in 2020.
While the move halts the proceedings in Sweden, Ny added that the investigation could be reopened should Assange return to the country before the statute of limitations expires in 2020.
"My assessment is the transfer cannot be carried out in a foreseeable future," Ny told a news conference in Stockholm, adding that Assange had avoided all attempts by British and Swedish authorities to arrest him.
"Detained for 7 years without charge by while my children grew up and my name was slandered. I do not forgive or forget," Assange said in a tweet after the announcement.
The 45-year-old Australian, a polarizing figure who has acknowledged the release of confidential and classified information from the United States and other countries, has been holed up at the Ecuadoran Embassy in London since 2012 after he skipped bail to avoid extradition to Sweden.
Assange has stayed in the embassy fearing he could be sent to Sweden by British officials and then perhaps extradited to the United States, where he is wanted over the release by WikiLeaks of 500,000 secret military files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
It is not known whether U.S. authorities have officially requested Assange's arrest. British authorities have said they do not comment in such cases on whether there may be a sealed indictment in the case.
Fidel Narvaez at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London said the embassy had no comment and was awaiting instructions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs back home.
"We have been waiting a long time for this decision," Christophe Marchand, a member of Assange's Brussels-based legal team, told AFP.
"Julian Assange has been a victim of a huge abuse of procedure. We are very pleased and very moved, as this marks the end of his nightmare."
Assange posted a picture on Twitter of himself smiling broadly, without comment.
London police said after the Swedish announcement that Assange would still be arrested if he left the embassy compound for failing to surrender to the court while out on bail.
Prime Minister Theresa May said any decision about Assange will be an operational matter for the British police to decide.
"UK refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received a US extradition warrant for Julian Assange. Focus now moves to UK," WikiLeaks said in a tweet after the announcement in Sweden.
The WikiLeaks founder has said the claims were politically motivated and insists he had only consensual sexual encounters with the women.
With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, and the BBC
Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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