Swedish prosecutor drops rape investigation of Assange

Swedish prosecutors announced on Friday that they would drop the rape case against WikiLeaks-founder Julian Assange, who has been under investigation of sex crimes allegedly committed in Sweden.

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

Assange's Swedish lawyer Per E. Samuelson declared Friday that "this is a total victory for Julian Assange". The Metropolitan Police says there is a British warrant for Assange's arrest after he jumped bail in 2012, and the force "is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the embassy".

"He's an innocent man and this case has been closed", he said, adding that Assange was "very unhappy" about the long inquiry. However, it said that it would now provide a "proportionate" level of resources, meaning it may stand down much of its guard. Juan Branco told The Associated Press in Paris that he wants Macron to help Assange leave the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. President Donald Trump has said it is "OK" with him if Sessions does that.

However, Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny confirmed that if Assange were to return to Sweden before the statute of limitations runs out in August 2020, the preliminary case against him could be reopened.

With the threat of extradition to Sweden removed, the 45-year-old Australian could potentially opt to leave the embassy.

Assange has always denied the rape allegations made against him. But I regret that Julian Assange was not brought to the Swedish court of law to answer the allegations against him.

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.

In a written statement, officials said: "According to Swedish legislation, a criminal investigation is to be conducted as quickly as possible".

"And in relation to Julian Assange, any decision that is taken about United Kingdom action in relation to him were he to leave the Ecuadorian embassy would be an operational matter for police".

"My client is shocked and no decision to [end the case] can make her change [her view] that Assange exposed her to rape", she said.

Ny says she has withdrawn a European arrest warrant.

The 45-year-old Australian has always denied the allegations, which he feared would see him extradited to the United States and put on trial over the leaking of hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. military and diplomatic documents.

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". She said 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.

Asked at a Conservative campaign event in Edinburgh if the United Kingdom would now support a request to extradite Assange to the US, Theresa May said: "We look at extradition requests on a case-by-case basis".

WikiLeaks' release of classified material has continued unabated during Assange's five years in the Ecuadorean embassy.

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