Chronicle of Julian Assange's battle against extradition

Sweden's top prosecutor has dropped the rape investigation against Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange

Sweden's top prosecutor has dropped the rape investigation against Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange

While no formal charges have been laid against the WikiLeaks founder, it is widely understood that the Department of Justice is preparing charges against Assange.

"Chief prosecutor Marianne Ny has today made a decision to discontinue the preliminary investigation regarding suspected rape concerning Julian Assange", the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

"Westminster Magistrates' Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Julian Assange following him failing to surrender to the court on the 29 June 2012", the police said. Prosecutors said that simply, "there is no reason to believe that the [extradition] to Sweden can be executed in the foreseeable future".

Assange, who has always denied wrongdoing, has been holed up at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, in an effort to avoid a Swedish arrest warrant. Assange fears Sweden will hand him over to United States authorities who could prosecute him for publishing the documents and possibly sentence him to death.

Claims of sexual assault by Assange, centring on allegations he did not wear a condom during consensual sex, led to an investigation by Sweden's chief prosecutor in 2010.

It is no longer possible to continue the preliminary investigation pursuant to Chapter 23, Section 4, second paragraph, of the Code of Judicial Procedure. His self-imprisonment came on the heels of a rape investigation against him in Sweden involving two women.

Friday was the deadline for the Swedish prosecution to send a request to Stockholm district court in the Assange case.

The decision to arrest Julian Assange in his absence has been repeatedly reviewed by the courts.

After the announcement by Swedish authorities, Wikileaks tweeted that the "UK refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received a USA extradition warrant for Julian Assange".

He feared being extradited to the USA if sent to Sweden.

Marianne Ny said his arrest warrant was being revoked as it was impossible to serve him notice of his alleged crimes. In order to proceed with the case, Julian Assange would have to be formally notified of the criminal suspicions against him.

He said recent comments by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Donald Trump in favour of arresting the Australian reaffirm Ecuador's belief that the rape charges against him were politically motivated and that Assange still faces a serious risk of prosecution.

A lawyer on Assange's legal team, Per Samuelsson, told Swedish radio the decision was "a total victory", saying that Assange was "of course happy and relieved".

"But it by no means erases seven years of detention without charge under house arrest and nearly five years here in this embassy without sunlight", Assange said.

Why has Sweden dropped charges against Assange?

"Focus now moves to United Kingdom", the group tweeted.

U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions has said arresting Assange was "a priority", over alleged crimes relating to Wikileaks' publication of classified documents.

But British police said they would still arrest Assange if he tried to leave the embassy, saying he had breached the terms of his bail by refusing to turn himself in when an arrest warrant was issued in 2012.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has suggested that the arrest of Assange could be an American priority, saying last month the USA was "stepping up our efforts on all leaks". It has been an expensive standoff: Assange's first three-year stay in the Ecuadorean embassy alone cost the British taxpayers £11.1 million ($14.4 million).

Assange said Friday his legal team would contact United Kingdom officials to seek a way forward in resolving his status.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) said Mr Assange still faced the lesser charge of failing to surrender to a court, an offence punishable by up to a year in prison or a fine.

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