Criminal Case Against WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange in Details

19 Mai, 2017, 22:51 | Author: Claudine Rigal

Swedish prosecutors today dropped a seven-year rape investigation into Julian Assange, a legal victory for the WikiLeaks founder who has been holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London since 2012.

Per Samuelsson, a lawyer for Mr. Assange, told the Swedish television network SVT that the decision was "a big victory" for his client.

Without the threat of extradition, it would appear now, more than ever that Assange may finally be free to leave the embassy.

But the picture is more complicated than that.

It was in August 2010 that Assange was detained in his absence during a visit to Sweden, where two women accused him of sexual assault, including rape.

He fears will see him extradited to the United States and tried over the leaking of hundreds of thousands of secret USA military and diplomatic documents.

After that, the investigation stalled.

While Assange may still not be able to leave Ecuador's embassy in the upmarket Knightsbridge area of London, the prosecutor's decision to stop the investigation into allegations of rape brings to an end a seven-year stand-off with Sweden.

The Swedish prosecutor in charge of the investigation, Marianne Ny, did not disclose her intentions in advance, but she was due to address a news conference at 12:00 (11:00am CET) on Friday.

"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.

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

"Whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail", Sessions said.

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British police, however, said they would still have to arrest Assange if he left the embassy, on the grounds that he had breached his bail.

In addition to looming US charges, the Metropolitan police said Friday that a warrant for Assange's arrest still stands, following his failure to surrender to the court on June 29 2012, adding that the force "is obliged to execute the warrant should he leave the embassy". British police say they still intend to arrest him, if he leaves the Ecuadorean Embassy.

Apparently, all you have to do to avoid years of prison for allegedly raping a girl and leaking classified information is to plant yourself in an Ecuadorean embassy for five years.

Assange said his legal team would reach out to British authorities to try to find a way forward, and he said he would be "happy" to have a dialogue with the U.S. Department of Justice despite its threats against him.

"It is extremely worrying that six months after the hearing at the Embassy of Ecuador in the United Kingdom, the Swedish prosecutor's office has not yet decided on the judicial situation of Julian Assange", the Ecuadoran Foreign Ministry said in the letter seen by AFP.

He is wanted by British police for breaching bail conditions - and WikiLeaks is concerned this could result in him being extradited to the United States, where he would face prosecution for publishing swathes of classified military and diplomatic documents.

He said recent comments by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Donald Trump in favor of arresting the Australian reaffirm Ecuador's belief that the rape charges against him were politically motivated and that Assange still faces a serious risk of prosecution.

Some legal experts say it makes his position less secure.

Wikileaks tweeted this morning: "UK refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received a U.S. extradition warrant for Julian Assange". That is no longer the case.

Prosecutors frustrated by Assange's refusal to return to Sweden for questioning eventually came to London to meet with him at the Ecuadorean Embassy past year.

Despite the welcome news from Sweden, police in London said Friday that Assange is still wanted there for jumping bail in 2012.

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