Sweden drops investigation of Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder

Assange case dropped by Swedish prosecutor

Assange case dropped by Swedish prosecutor

Sweden is dropping its investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on rape allegations, according to a prosecution statement released Friday.

The Metropolitan Police in London said, however, that they still planned to carry out a warrant issued after Mr. Assange failed to surrender in June 2012, and that it was "obliged" to execute the warrant if he were to leave the Ecuadorean Embassy. Assange believes the United States wants him extradited and arrested in connection with WikiLeaks' publication of classified US documents.

The Swedish Prosecution Authority said Friday that chief Marianne Ny "has made a decision to discontinue the investigation".

As NPR's Frank Langfitt reports, Assange has remained at the Ecuadorean Embassy for years out of fear that an extradition to Sweden would spell another extradition, in turn, to the US, "where he could face trial for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret diplomatic and military documents".

According to reports, soon after the news of the Swedish decision broke, Wikileaks tweeted that the focus now moves to the United Kingdom, as it has still not confirmed or denied whether it has received a U.S. extradition warrant for the websites founder.

Elisabeth Massi Fritz says her client is shocked by the Swedish decision but added that "she can't change her view that Assange has exposed her to a rape".

Ny told reporters that prosecutors had been unable to make a full assessment of the case and were not making a finding on whether Assange was guilty or innocent of the allegations.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo last month called WikiLeaks a "hostile intelligence service", and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, responding to a question about Assange, said the administration was stepping up its efforts against all leaks of sensitive information.

However, British police say Assange still faces arrest for jumping bail if he leaves the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

British officials said they do not comment on individual extradition cases.

"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".

The Swedish prosecutors long argued that there was no value in questioning Assange in London since a trial would most likely have to take place in Sweden.

The Justice Department investigation of Assange and WikiLeaks dates to at least 2010, when the site first gained wide attention for posting thousands of files stolen by the former US Army intelligence analyst now known as Chelsea Manning. "Focus now moves to United Kingdom", the group tweeted. British Prime Minister Theresa May said Friday that "any decision that is taken about United Kingdom action in relation to him (Assange) would be an operational matter for the police".

The letter argued that recent public declarations constituted an "obvious risk" for Mr Assange, who originally faced three sexual assault charges that he denied.

She said the case could be reopened if Assange returns to Sweden before the statute of limitations expires in 2020.

In a statement detailing his relationship with his accuser, he said that the woman had expressed a clear desire "to have sexual intercourse with me", and that the two had parted amicably after having sex several times.

Assange and WikiLeaks have repeatedly infuriated US officials with the widespread release of sensitive secret documents related to military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and diplomatic relations around the world.

Police kept up round-the-clock guard outside the embassy until past year, when the operation was scaled back. WikiLeaks also had a provocative role in the 2016 US presidential campaign when it published emails written by Hillary Clinton's campaign officials.

The transgender former USA intelligence analyst left Fort Leavenworth on Wednesday, months after Barack Obama commuted her 35-year sentence as one of his final acts as President.

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