Swedish prosecutors announced Friday that they have dropped their rape investigation against Julian Assange. An arrest warrant for Assange was also revoked.
Since 2012, the WikiLeaks founder had sought asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, avoiding extradition to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault and rape stemming from a 2010 incident.
In 2015, the sexual assault charges against Assange were dropped after the statue of limitations expired, but the rape investigation remained open until Friday.
“Detained for 7 years without charge by while my children grew up and my name was slandered. I do not forgive or forget,” Assange tweeted Friday morning.
Swedish director of public prosecutions Margaret Ny said the decision to drop the rape investigation had been made after all possibilities for charges had been “exhausted.” “In order to proceed with the case, Julian Assange would have to be formally notified of the criminal suspicions against him. We cannot expect to receive assistance from Ecuador regarding this. Therefore the investigation is discontinued,” Ny said.
“If he, at a later date, makes himself available, I will be able to decide to resume the investigation immediately,” he added. Sweden has until 2020 to charge Assange with rape.
“This is one of the happiest days of my legal career,” Assange’s lawyer Per Samuelson told reporters Friday. “The decision was taken because he was interrogated in November 2016 and could give a good explanation of what happened… This is obviously about consensual sex between two adults.” The alleged victim told the press through her lawyer that she maintains her allegations. “It’s a scandal that a suspected rapist can avoid the judicial system and thus avoid a trial in court,” the lawyer said.
Assange still faces immediate arrest in the U.K. for breaching bail conditions after he failed to attend a magistrates court session while in the Ecuadorian embassy. Assange could face a year in prison if he’s found guilty of that charge.
“The Metropolitan police service is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the embassy,” London police said in a statement, the Guardian reports.
In 2015, when the sexual assault charges were dropped, Assange suggested that even if the rape investigation were to end, it was unlikely he would leave the Ecuadorian embassy because he feared the United Kingdom would extradite him to the United States, where he could be tried for WikiLeaks’ public dispersion of top-secret documents; the U.K. is legally obligated to extradite Assange to the U.S. if given the opportunity.
As recently as April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said arresting Assange was a “priority,” the BBC reported, even though formal charges against Assange and WikiLeaks hadn’t been filed.
“This is a matter that’s gone beyond anything I’m aware of,” Sessions said at the time. “We have professionals that have been in the security business of the United States for many years that are shocked by the number of leaks and some of them are quite serious.”
Sessions added, “We’ve already begun to step up our efforts and whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail.”
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