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19 May 2017, 11:12 | Terri Saunders
Swedish prosecutors on Friday dropped their investigation into a rape allegation against Julian Assange, closing a almost seven-year legal saga that led the WikiLeaks founder to seek sanctuary in Ecuador's embassy in London. Sweden's top prosecutor said Friday she is dropping an investigation into a rape claim against WikiLeaks founder Ju.
It does not clear Assange's name, however, and some experts say it puts him into an even more precarious legal situation if the USA has - as some suspect - a sealed indictment for his arrest. "He is now free to leave the embassy when he wants".
In his words: "The war is just commencing". Assange, 45, believes the United States wants him extradited and arrested in connection with WikiLeaks' publication of classified US documents.
August 16: British Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire says Ecuador's decision to harbor Assange had prevented the proper course of justice.
In 2012, Assange took refuge in Ecuador's embassy. British police say he is still wanted for jumping bail in 2012.
It added: "The priority for the MPS must continue to be arresting those who are now wanted in the Capital in connection with serious violent or sexual offences for the protection of Londoners".
Police kept up round-the-clock guard outside the embassy until past year, when the operation was scaled back.
"This implies that we can now demonstrate that the United States has a will to take action. this is why we ask for the arrest warrant to be cancelled so that Julian Assange can fly to Ecuador and enjoy his political asylum", he said at the time.
Assange's Swedish lawyer last month filed a new motion demanding that the arrest warrant be lifted after US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in April that arresting Assange would be "a priority".
"The Metropolitan police service is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the embassy", the statement said. A U.S. Department of Justice spokesman on Friday declined to comment on the case.
Possible US charges aside, 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 Friday.
After the news was announced on Friday, Wikileaks tweeted that the "focus now moves to the UK", but Mr Assange's fate still seems unclear.
British officials said they do not comment on individual extradition cases.
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December 8: Assange surrenders to police in London and is detained pending extradition hearing.
"At this point, all possibilities to conduct the investigation are exhausted", said Sweden's director of public prosecutions, Marianne Ny, on Friday.
There were initially two separate allegations being investigated, but one was dropped in 2015 because the statute of limitations ran out.
The rape allegation followed a Wikileaks conference in Stockholm in 2010.
She accused him of having sex with her as she slept without using a condom despite repeatedly having denied him unprotected sex. His lawyers say Assange was really asking for a pardon for Manning.
Ny told a news conference in Stockholm: "He has tried to dodge all attempts to avoid Swedish and British legal authorities".
Sweden's top prosecutor says the investigation of alleged sexual offences could reopened if Julian Assange returns to Sweden before the statute of limitations lapses in 2020.
The lawyer who was representing the woman who made the allegation of rape described the decision as a "scandal", reported the Guardian.
Elisabeth Massi Fritz says her client is shocked by the Swedish decision but added that "she can't change her view that Assange has exposed her to a rape".
Standing by the Ecuadorian flag, on the balcony which in recent years has become his podium for addressing the media, Julian Assange delivered a characteristic and vitriolic attack on Western Governments and the European Union. The maximum sentence for that offense is a year in prison.
"The truth is, he gave a very good explanation: this was consensual sex between two adults and nothing else".
Assange and WikiLeaks have repeatedly infuriated US officials with the widespread release of sensitive secret documents related to military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and diplomatic relations around the world.
WikiLeaks' release of classified material has continued unabated during Assange's five years in the Ecuadorean embassy.
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