Sweden drops Assange probe

Source:Reuters Published: 2017/5/20 0:13:40

UK police says WikiLeaks founder could still be arrested


Swedish prosecutors dropped an investigation of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Friday over a rape allegation, but British police said he would still be arrested if he left the ­Ecuadorean Embassy in London where he has been holed up for five years.

Assange, 45, took refuge in the embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden after two women made rape and sexual molestation allegations against him, which he denies.

He feared Sweden would hand him over to the US to face prosecution over WikiLeaks' publication of swathes of classified military and diplomatic documents in one of the largest information leaks in US history.

Assange tweeted on Friday that he would not forgive those behind the investigation, "Detained for 7 years without charge while my children grew up and my name was slandered. I do not forgive or forget."

Earlier Swedish Chief Prosecutor Marianne Ny said the rape investigation could not proceed because of legal obstacles.

"We are not making a statement about his guilt," Ny said, adding that the investigation could be reopened if Assange came to Sweden before the statute of limitations deadline for the rape allegation in 2020.

However, police in London said they were still obliged to arrest Assange if he left the embassy for skipping bail. They said this was a much less serious offence than rape, but he could still face up to a year in jail if convicted.

Assange is a cyber hero to some for exposing government abuses of power and championing free speech, but to others he is a criminal who has undermined the security of the West.

The former computer hacker enraged Washington by publishing hundreds of thousands of secret US diplomatic cables that laid bare often highly critical US appraisals of world leaders from Russian President Vladimir Putin to the Saudi royal family.

He always denied the rape allegations in Sweden and said they were a ploy to get him whisked off to the US.

Asked if Britain would support extraditing Assange to the US, British Prime Minister Theresa May said, "We look at extradition requests when we receive them on a case-by-case basis."



Posted in: EUROPE,CROSS-BORDERS

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