Assange claims victory after Sweden drops rape probe

Swedish prosecutors drop rape probe against Assange

Swedish prosecutors drop rape probe against Assange

With news that Sweden has ended its investigation into sexual assault allegations leveled against Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder enters a new, uncertain legal landscape with US authorities still eyeing his prosecution.

He has been living at the Ecuadoran embassy in London since 2012, and the British police have said they will arrest Assange as soon as he walks out of the embassy because he has broken his conditions for bail - a relatively minor offence under British law - by failing to surrender on June 29, 2012 for extradition to Sweden.

It does not clear Assange's name, however, and some experts say it puts him into an even more precarious legal situation if the USA has — as some suspect — a sealed indictment for his arrest.

At a press briefing earlier today, Sweden's top prosecutor Marianne Ny said that by remaining in the embassy in London Assange had evaded the exercise of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) that would have seen him extradited to Sweden.

"He is now free to leave the embassy when he wants", Per E Samuelsson, his lawyer in Sweden, told Swedish Radio.

Last night Swedish prosecutors announced they were dropping the investigation because all avenues to pursue it have been exhausted, ending a seven-year legal stand-off.

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British police said they would arrest Assange if he leaves the embassy on the relatively minor charge of jumping bail, but the more severe threat is a possible sealed US indictment against him.

"Seven years without charge while my children grew up without me".

Although he is no longer facing action from Swedish prosecutors, Assange is still at risk of arrest if he tries to leave the Ecuadorian embassy. She said that the abandonment of Assange's pursuit was not a statement of whether or not he was guilty.

"Recent declarations by high-level USA officials. reflect the executive branch's intention to once again take up criminal action against the WikiLeaks organization and Julian Assange", said Long.

Assange has vigorously denied the claims, and in a statement acquired by the ABC in December, told prosecutors he had been subjected to "six years of unlawful, politicised detention without charge". Assange, 45, believes the United States wants him extradited and arrested in connection with WikiLeaks' publication of classified US documents.

According to a former senior Justice Department official, who requested anonymity to discuss the Assange case, American authorities are now presented with a "cat and mouse game".

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Assange could fight any USA extradition request in the British courts, a process that could take years.

But US authorities have never confirmed that they have Assange under investigation or are seeking his extradition. In order to proceed with the case, Julian Assange would have to be formally notified of the criminal suspicions against him.

Now that Sweden's director of public prosecutions has washed her hands of the case, the ball is back in the court of the British government and judiciary, which could swiftly cut through the legal knots that have held back this case, announce that there will be no extradition of Assange to the United States, get the Swedes to take a similar stance and there would then be no legal impediment to this long overdue case being heard.

She accused him of having sex with her as she slept without using a condom despite repeatedly having denied him unprotected sex.

Assange has said the sex was consensual.

Although the investigation has been dropped, Assange has not been exonerated - and Sweden could reopen the case if he returns to Sweden before the statute of limitations lapses in 2020.

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Assange is arrested and held for months while his case progresses, before being given a prison sentence that could reach a maximum of one year.

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