Sweden drops rape charges against Julian Assange
Assange may still remain in hiding, however
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has successfully waited out rape charges, after Sweden decided to drop its investigation.
Assange was accused with rape in the lesser degree in 2012, living in the Ecuador embassy to avoid extradition to face the charges, arguing Sweden could send him on to the US for his leaks of military files.
The Swedish prosecutor said the chargers were dropped because the investigation could not continue without Assange's prescence in court, and that the investigation could be reopened if he visits Sweden before the statute of limitations is up in 2020. Assange has always denied the charges.
Whether this means Assange will leave the embassy remains to be seen, as noted by the Wikileaks Twitter account - which is assumed to be run by Assange. "UK refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received a US extradition warrant for Julian Assange. Focus now moves to UK," it said. However, Assange's own Twitter account simply posted an image of him smiling.
The Metroplitan Police has issued a statement saying that the warrent for his arrest for failing to surrender to the court in June 2012 still stands. "The Metropolitan Police Service is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the Embassy," the statement said.
However, the Met added: "Whilst Mr Assange was wanted on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for an extremely serious offence, the MPS response reflected the serious nature of that crime. Now 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. The MPS will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence."
The US attorney general Jeff Sessions said last month that he considered arresting Assange a priority.
The announcement follows Assange's lawyer filing for the court to drop a detention order against the Wikileaks founder, with today the deadline for prosecutors to respond with a request to arrest him.
Assange's charges being dropped come the same week as the release from prison of Chelsea Manning, the US army private who leaked military records to Wikileaks. She served seven years of a 35-year sentence, which was commuted to time served by Barack Obama before his term as US president ended.
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