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20 May 2017, 04:41 | Terri Saunders
Sweden dropping probe against WikiLeaks founder
The investigation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been dropped by Sweden's Director of Public Prosecution.
The Swedish Prosecution Authority said in a statement Friday that Marianne Ny "has made a decision to discontinue the investigation". At a Friday press conference, Ny and "Chief Prosecutor Ingrid Isgren will give information about the decision", the Swedish prosecutor's office statement read.
Sweden's top prosecutor dropped a long-running inquiry into a rape claim against Assange on Friday, saying there was no way to detain or charge him "in the foreseeable future" because of his protected status inside the embassy.
Britain and the USA have an extradition treaty, so if Assange leaves the Ecuadorian Embassy where he's claimed asylum, the British could arrest him and send him to the US. But it adds that Assange is.
Assange is wanted by British police for extradition to Sweden.
Scotland Yard said: "Westminster Magistrates' Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Julian Assange following him failing to surrender to the court on June 29 2012". Although Sweden has withdrawn its request for a European arrest warrant, The Guardian reports that Ny maintained the probe could be reopened if he returns to Sweden before 2020, a date set by statute of limitations. President Donald Trump has said it is "OK" with him if Sessions does that. 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.
At a press conference in Quito, Long called on Britain allow Assange safe passage so he could take up his asylum in Ecuador.
"It is a scandal that a suspected rapist can avoid the judicial system and thus avoid a trial in court", attorney Elisabeth Massi Fritz said in a statement quoted by The Telegraph.
Ecuadorian prosecutors interviewed Assange in November 2016 and Swedish investigators interviewed Assange in March of 2017, both in London.
"The decision to discontinue the preliminary investigation is not because we've been able to make a full assessment of the evidence in this case, but because we didn't see any possibilities to advance the investigation forward".
January 5, 2017 - Swedish prosecutors say they have received a transcript of the November questioning. "So we don't make any statements on the issue of guilt", she said via a translator.
Despite the welcome news from Sweden, police in London said Friday that Assange is still wanted there for jumping bail in 2012.
However, it noted that now that the Swedish authorities had dropped their investigation, Assange was "wanted for a much less serious offence" than before and said the force would "provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence".
Mr Assange believes he faces extradition to the United States for questioning over the activities of WikiLeaks if he leaves the embassy.
After the news was announced, WikiLeaks tweeted that the "focus now moves to the UK", saying the country had "refused to confirm or deny whether it has already received a US extradition warrant for Julian Assange". "Focus now moves to United Kingdom".
British police kept up a round-the-clock guard outside the embassy until December 2015, when the operation was scaled back partly because of the costs, which had exceeded 11 million pounds (over $17.5 million at the time).
The Australian national has previously expressed concern that he could end up being extradited and facing the death penalty in the United States over allegations of revealing government secrets through his site, WikiLeaks. He said Assange had convinced Swedish prosecutors during a November meeting a year ago that he was not guilty of any sex offences.
The day began with the dramatic announcement in Sweden that the rape investigation was being suspended.
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