Julian Assange sexual assault investigation dropped

Published: 20 May 2017 Image credit: Reuters


Swedish prosecutors say they are dropping their investigation into rape allegations against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, ending a seven-year legal battle.

The announcement means Assange will no longer face investigation from Sweden, but he still faces arrest from British police over skipping bail.

British police said they were obliged to arrest the Wikileaks leader should he leave the Ecuadorean embassy, where he has been taking refuge for the last five years.

He first took refuge in the embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where two women had made rape and sexual molestation allegations against him, which he had denied.

Assange appeared on the balcony of the embassy after the announcement, telling his supporters he was prepared to talk to Britain about the ‘best way forward.’
“The road is far from over. The war, the proper war is just commencing,” he said.

Assange’s lawyer in Sweden, Per E Samuelsson, called the announcement ‘total victory.’

“This is a total victory for Julian Assange… he is of course happy and relieved. He has been critical that it has lasted that long,” he said.

Swedish Chief Prosecutor Marianne Ny said the rape investigation could not continue due to legal obstacles.

“We are not making a statement about his guilt,” she said.

Assange, a former hacker, gained notoriety for publishing hundreds of thousands of classified US diplomatic cables, which revealed hidden attitudes US officials held towards other world leaders.

He had always denied the allegations from Sweden and believed they were part of a ploy to extradite him to the United States.

However, in January, Assange stood by his offer that he would travel to the United States provided his rights were upheld and Chelsea Manning, the former soldier who leaked classified information to Assange in 2010, was freed.

Manning was released on Wednesday after spending seven years in a US military prison.