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19 May 2017, 10:44 | 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.
Assange, 45, took refuge in the embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden after two women made rape and sexual molestation allegations against him, which he denies.
Swedish prosecutors continued to insist on questioning Assange in Sweden, but he was finally questioned by Equadorian prosecutors at the London embassy in November a year ago.
But on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where the WikiLeaks founder has been holed up since June 2012, he said he can not forgive or forget the "terrible injustice" he has suffered.
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.
Earlier this month, Assange, via his lawyer, demanded that the arrest warrant against him be suspended since the United States had declared that they meant to imprison him.
"My client is shocked and no decision to (end the case) can make her change that Assange exposed her to rape", she said.
On 14 June 2012, The Supreme Court issued a final decision ordering the surrender of Julian Assange to Sweden.
Mr Assange said the United Kingdom had refused to confirm or deny whether there is a warrant from the US for his extradition, insisting he was happy to talk to the US Justice Department.
From outside the embassy, Sky's Ashish Joshi said: "Assange sounded angry, he sounded triumphant and he sounded defiant".
Swedish prosecutor drops rape investigation of Assange
Elisabeth Massi Fritz says her client is shocked but adds that "she can't change her view that Assange has exposed her to a rape". American authorities have prepared charges to seek Arrange's arrest, CNN reported, citing US officials familiar with the matter.
United Kingdom police, on the other hand, have insisted that they would still have to arrest the WikiLeaks founder for past violations of bail conditions if he stepped out of the Ecuadorian embassy, where he has been holed up for years.
Assange is arrested and held for months while his case progresses, before being given a prison sentence that could reach a maximum of one year.
The Metropolitan police in London said Assange would also face immediate arrest for breaching his bail conditions; a warrant was issued when he failed to attend a magistrates court after entering the embassy, according to the Guardian. While potential United States espionage charges loom, the British Metropolitan Police Service still has an arrest warrant dating to 2012.
Hailed as a hero by supporters and reviled as a manipulator by critics, the white-haired Australian has been holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over rape allegations. Is Donald Trump likely to take a lenient approach to Julian Assange?
"At this point, all possibilities to conduct the investigation are exhausted", said Sweden's director of public prosecutions, Marianne Ny, on Friday. Six months ago, he was questioned by an Ecuadorian prosecutor on questions provided by Swedish officials in the presence of Swedish prosecutor Ingrid Isgren in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. They said this was a much less serious offence than rape, but he could still face up to a year in jail if convicted. "The MPS will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence", it said.
The MPS said it would "not comment further on the operational plan".
Today was the deadline for the public prosecutor's office to either renew the pan-European arrest warrant or lift it.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has suggested that the arrest of Assange could be an American priority, saying last month the US was "stepping up our efforts on all leaks".
Mr Samuelson told Agence France-Presse: "This implies that we can now demonstrate that the U.S. has a will to take action. this is why we ask for the arrest warrant to be cancelled".
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