Sweden Drops Rape Investigation Against Julian Assange

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British police said they would arrest Assange if he leaves the embassy on the relatively minor charge of jumping bail, but the more severe threat is a possible sealed US indictment against him.

Assange is still subject to an arrest warrant in the United Kingdom after he failed to surrender to Westminster Magistrates' Court in June 2012, London's Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement on Friday.

U.S. President Donald Trump said last month he would support any decision by the Justice Department to charge Assange, who contends the United States should recognize his First Amendment rights as a journalist.

"The decision to discontinue the preliminary investigation is not because we have been able to make a full assessment of the evidence in this case, but because we did not see any possibilities to advance the investigation forward", Public Prosecution Director Marianne Ny said in a televised press conference. "My client is shocked and no decision to (end the case) can make her change that Assange exposed her to rape".

However, if Assange were to return to Sweden before the statute of limitations for the suspected offenses expires in August 2020, the investigation could be reopened, she said.

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Ny said the case was not being dropped because Assange has been found innocent.

Speaking from the balcony of Ecuador's London embassy, the WikiLeaks founder says his seven-year legal ordeal - which he calls unjust detention - "is not something that I can forgive".

Marianne Ny, the Swedish director of public prosecutions announced Friday that she was dropping the rape case because there is no prospect of bringing Assange to Sweden "in the foreseeable future" and it is "no longer proportionate" to maintain the European arrest warrant.

A lawyer on Assange's legal team, Per Samuelsson, told swedish radio the decision was "a total victory", saying that Assange was "of course happy and relieved".

Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning served seven years in prison for giving classified material to WikiLeaks. He did not take shouted questions from the reporters assembled outside and would not say if he plans to leave the embassy located in the posh Knightsbridge neighborhood. He feared Sweden would hand him over to the United States to face prosecution over WikiLeaks' publication of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents in one of the largest information leaks in U.S. history.

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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 on Friday it would be "an operational matter for the police" to decide whether to arrest Assange if he left the embassy. He has been there ever since, fearing that if he is arrested he might ultimately be extradited to 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". At the point when a prosecutor has exhausted the possibilities to continue the investigation, the prosecutor is obliged to discontinue the investigation. "Focus now moves to U.K".

Police kept up round-the-clock guard outside the embassy until a year ago, when the operation was scaled back.

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