Swedish prosecutors drop rape probe against WikiLeaks's Assange

Julian Assange makes a speech from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in central London

Julian Assange makes a speech from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in central London

The Latest on Swedish prosecutor ending investigation of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange (all times local): 10:45 a.m.

"Director of Public Prosecution, Marianne Ny, has today chose to discontinue the investigation regarding suspected rape (lesser degree) by Julian Assange", a brief statement from stockholm said.

Regardless of the "victory" for Assange, as his Swedish lawyer called it, the Australian national seems to be unable to leave Ecuador's Embassy immediately for fear of arrest.

"The Metropolitan Police Service said... it remained obliged to arrest Mr Assange should he leave the Ecuadorian embassy on a lesser charge of failing to surrender to a court". 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.

It said the MPS will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence.

Assange's taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy provoked a stalemate, with diplomatic rules preventing British police from entering the building and Assange unable to leave without facing arrest.

Ecuador's Foreign Minister Guillaume Long celebrated the decision but expressed outrage over the lengthy delays by the Swedish prosecutors in resolving the case. Assange was last questioned by Swedish officials at the embassy six months ago in relation to the case.

Mr Assange originally faced three sex allegations, all of which he denied.

Dropping the investigation is not a result of deciding he is not guilty, Ny added - it's because there's no practical way to continue it.

The dropped charges follow a series of interviews by Swedish prosecutor Ingrid Isgren at the Ecuadorian embassy.

Sweden's Director of Public Prosecutions Marianne Ny dropped on Friday the rape investigation into Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

The allegations surfaced after two women accused Assange of sexual misconduct during a visit to Stockholm in 2010.

The 45-year-old could face trial in the United States over the leaking hundreds of thousands of secret USA military and diplomatic documents.

Assange has said that all the sex was consensual.

Ny told reporters that the WikiLeaks founder had "tried to dodge all attempts at arrest" by British and Swedish authorities.

The Metropolitan Police stopped its round the clock presence outside the Embassy in October 2015 amid controversy over the escalating cost of the exercise - believed to be over £12 million.

His lawyers have said, however, that he wouldn't part unless the United Kingdom government guarantees he won't be extradited to the U.S. over spying charges linked to his WikiLeaks activities.

Assange's Swedish lawyer declared the decision of the Swedish prosecutors to drop the rape charges as a "victory" for his client.

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.

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