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Swedish prosecutor drops Assange rape probe

20 May 2017

At a Friday press conference, Ny and "Chief Prosecutor Ingrid Isgren will give information about the decision", the Swedish prosecutor's office statement read. In a separate statement, the prosecutor noted that in Sweden a criminal investigation has to be conducted as quickly as possible.

The Swedish Prosecution Authority said in a statement Friday that Marianne Ny "has chose to discontinue the investigation".

Assange has been in Ecuador's embassy in London since 2012. These interviews in London led to further investigative measures being taken.

In February a year ago, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said Assange was in effect being arbitrarily detained against global law.

(AP Photo/Frank Augstein). The Ecuadorian national flag flies outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Friday May 19, 2017.

Swedish prosecutors said Friday that they were dropping a rape investigation into Assange because there was no reason to believe he would be brought to Sweden in the foreseeable future.

But the picture is more complicated than that.

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He has been remanded in custody in absentia by Swedish authorities, who issued an arrest warrant relating to a 2010 rape allegation which Assange denies.

After that, the investigation stalled.

The divisive founder of WikiLeaks has repeatedly denied the accusations of rape and molestation made by two women he met during a trip to Stockholm in 2010.

"Director of Public Prosecution, Marianne Ny, has today chose to discontinue the investigation regarding suspected rape by Julian Assange", the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

She said the probe could be reopened if Mr Assange returns to Sweden before statute of limitations ends in August 2020, but the move appears highly unlikely.

Mr Assange previously said he would go to the USA if Wikileaks' source Chelsea Manning was granted clemency. "So we don't make any statements on the issue of guilt", she said via a translator.

This isn't to say that Assange can now leave the Ecuadorian embassy with impunity. But there is also a warrant issued by a British court after he skipped bail in June 2012.

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But the British police have said they will arrest Assange as soon as he walks out of the embassy because he broke his conditions for bail - a relatively minor offence under British law - by failing to surrender on June 29, 2012 for extradition to Sweden.

"In prison, under house arrest and nearly five years here in this embassy without sunlight!" he said.

"My legal staff have contacted the United Kingdom authorities and we hope to engage in a dialogue about what is the best way forward". Mr. Sessions has expressed a desire to arrest Assange, stating that the Justice Department would prioritize the prosecution of any operatives who leak classified information, potentially placing US national security at risk.

He cited a comment by new US Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the arrest of Mr Assange would be "a priority". But it's not clear whether an arrest warrant has been issued - nor even whether US authorities have drawn up charges.

The case has raised questions about the Swedish justice system with a United Nations panel saying Assange had been subject to "arbitrary detention".

Some legal experts say it makes his position less secure.

USA and British officials Friday declined to say if the United States has requested Assange's extradition. That is no longer the case. He has also refused to leave the embassy, fearing extradition to the United States.

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Assange could fight any USA extradition request in the British courts, a process that could take years.

Swedish prosecutor drops Assange rape probe