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Julian Assange: The real questions now fall on Ecuador, says lawyer

20 May 2017, 12:00 | Terri Saunders

Julian Assange: The real questions now fall on Ecuador, says lawyer

Julian Assange: The real questions now fall on Ecuador, says lawyer

Sweden's top prosecutor said Friday she is dropping an investigation into a rape claim against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after nearly seven years.

In order to avoid extradition, Assange has been living in the Ecuadorean embassy to the United Kingdom in London since 2012.

Assange tweeted on Friday that he would not forgive those behind the investigation: "Detained for 7 years without charge while my children grew up and my name was slandered".

Marianne Ny said she has withdrawn a European arrest warrant for Assange after concluding that it won't be possible to bring him to Sweden.

"Now that the situation has changed and the Swedish authorities have discontinued their investigation into that matter, Mr. Assange remains wanted for a much less serious offense", the Metropolitan statement added.

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. "To conduct a preliminary investigation for so many years and today make a decision to close the investigation is something I am very critical of", she said.

The former computer hacker enraged Washington by publishing hundreds of thousands of secret USA diplomatic cables that laid bare often highly critical US appraisals of world leaders from Russian President Vladimir Putin to the Saudi royal family.

He always denied the rape allegations in Sweden and said they were a ploy to get him whisked off to the United States.

Both U.S. and British officials have declined to comment on whether there is a warrant for Assange's arrest.

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Ecuador's foreign minister Guillaume Long said: "Ecuador regrets that the Swedish Prosecutor delayed more than four years in carrying out this interview". However, London police issued a statement after the Swedish announcement making clear Assange was still wanted by them. The arrangement was necessary, he had said, to keep Swedish authorities from turning him over to the United States for his role at the helm of WikiLeaks, which has enraged governments around the world by publishing tens of thousands of leaked classified US documents.

At a press conference in Quito, Long called on Britain allow Assange safe passage so he could take up his asylum in Ecuador. Long added: "This has gone on long enough".

However, British police say Assange still faces arrest for jumping bail if he leaves the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo last month called WikiLeaks a "hostile intelligence service", and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, responding to a question about Assange, said the administration was stepping up its efforts against all leaks of sensitive information. "So we don't make any statements on the issue of guilt", she said via a translator.

WikiLeaks also had a role in the 2016 USA presidential campaign when it published emails written by Hillary Clinton's campaign officials. US intelligence agencies have concluded the Russian government hacked the emails as part of an effort by Moscow to tilt the election in Trump's favour.

Julian Assange's Swedish lawyer Per E. Samuelson says it is a "day of victory" for the WikiLeaks founder after Sweden's top prosecutor dropped an investigation into a rape claim against him.

There were initially two separate allegations being investigated, but one was dropped in 2015 because the statute of limitations ran out.

Assange has spent almost five years inside the Latin American country's London embassy, but he seemed robust and defiant in his brief balcony appearance. President Donald Trump has said it is "OK" with him if Sessions does that.



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