Sweden drops case but WikiLeaks' Assange is not in the clear

Cheryl Sanders
May 20, 2017

British police said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would still be arrested if he leaves the Ecuadorean embassy in London after Swedish prosecutors said on Friday they would drop a preliminary investigation into an allegation of rape against him.

A former Government lawyer has suggested Ecuador now faces real questions after Sweden dropped its rape investigation into Julian Assange.

The Metropolitan Police Service in London issued a statement saying that its actions had been based on a response to a "European Arrest Warrant for an extremely serious offence".

CIA Director Mike Pompeo has branded WikiLeaks a "hostile intelligence service", and Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last month that Assange's arrest is a priority. It is not clear if that may change now that the investigation has been dropped.

Although Sweden has withdrawn its request for a European arrest warrant, The Guardian reports that Ny maintained the probe could be reopened if he returns to Sweden before 2020, a date set by statute of limitations.

"Chief prosecutor Marianne Ny has today chose to discontinue the preliminary investigation regarding suspected rape concerning Julian Assange", the statement said.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks as Ecuador's Foreign Affairs Minister Ricardo Patino listens, during a news conference at the Ecuadorian embassy in central London August 18, 2014.

The maximum sentence for that offense is a year in prison.

British police said that since Assange is now wanted for a "much less serious offense" than the original sex crimes claims, police "will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offense".

He fears Sweden would extradite him to the United States to face trial for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret USA military and diplomatic documents that first gained attention in 2010.

A lawyer for the woman who alleged she was raped by Assange said "it's a scandal that a suspected rapist can avoid the judicial system and thus avoid a trial in court". 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".

Similarly, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May appeared to distance herself from any lingering diplomatic complications, remarking that any decision about Assange will be an operational matter for the police.

Friday's development follows a letter sent to the Swedish government by the government of Ecuador saying there had been a "serious failure" by the prosecutor, including a "lack of initiative" to complete inquiries. He said the day marked an "important victory", but noted that he still could be prosecuted by the United States.

Samuelson tells The Associated Press that "this was consensual sex between two adults and nothing else", adding Assange was now "a free man".

"Consequently, there is no basis upon which to continue the investigation".

Police kept up round-the-clock guard outside the embassy until December 2015, when the operation was scaled back, in part because of the cost, which had exceeded 11 million pounds (over $17.5 million at the time). But he also believes the United States wants to extradite him to face charges related to WikiLeaks' publication of classified American documents.

Other reports by iNewsToday