Sweden drops rape probe against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
The police and media persons wait outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Friday. Pic/AFP
Swedish prosecutors dropped an investigation yesterday of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over a rape allegation, but the British police said he would still be arrested if he left the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been holed up for nearly five years.
Assange (45) took refuge in the embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over the rape allegation, which he denies.
He feared Sweden would hand him over to the US to face prosecution over WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents in one of the largest information leaks in US history.
Swedish chief prosecutor Marianne Ny said the investigation had not been able to 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.
The British police said it was still under obligation to arrest Assange were he to leave the embassy. “Westminster Magistrates’ Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Julian Assange following him failing to surrender to the court on the June 29, 2012,” the police said.
A UK government source would not confirm or deny if the United States had made a request to extradite Assange until an arrest had been made.