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Updated | Swedish prosecutors drop rape probe against WikiLeaks's Assange

Swedish prosecutors have decided to drop the rape investigation into Wikileaks founder Julian Assange

19 May 2017, 8:28am
Last updated on 19 May 2017, 2:56pm
Swedish prosecutors investigating rape accusations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange must decide on Friday if they will lift a Europe-wide arrest warrant against him in a seven-year-old case
Swedish prosecutors investigating rape accusations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange must decide on Friday if they will lift a Europe-wide arrest warrant against him in a seven-year-old case
Swedish prosecutors have dropped a seven-year rape investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but British police said he would still be arrested if he left the Ecuadorean embassy in London where he has been holed up for nearly five years.

Assange, 45, took refuge in the embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over the rape allegation, which he denies.

He feared Sweden would hand him over to the United States to face prosecution over WikiLeaks' publication of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents in one of the largest information leaks in US history.

Friday was the deadline for the public prosecutor's office to either renew or lift Assange's arrest warrant before a Stockholm court.

Swedish Chief Prosecutor Marianne Ny said the investigation had not been able to proceed because of legal obstacles.

"We are not making a statement about his guilt," Ny said, adding that the investigation could be reopened if Assange came to Sweden before the statute of limitations deadline for the rape allegation in 2020.

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 by failing to surrender on 29 June 2012 for extradition to Sweden.

"The Metropolitan Police Service is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the Embassy," they said.

Assange's Swedish lawyer last month filed a new motion demanding that the arrest warrant be lifted after US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in April that arresting Assange would be "a priority".

"This implies that we can now demonstrate that the US has a will to take action... this is why we ask for the arrest warrant to be cancelled so that Julian Assange can fly to Ecuador and enjoy his political asylum," lawyer Per Samuelsson told AFP news agency at the time.

The accusation against Assange dated from August 2010 when the alleged victim, who says she met him at a WikiLeaks conference in Stockholm a few days earlier, filed a complaint.

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

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