Julian Assange rape investigation dropped

The Swedish prosecutor is dropping its investigation into an allegation of rape against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

He has been in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, claiming political asylum in order to escape a European Arrest Warrant over the claim.

Mr Assange has not set foot outside the building for five years, ultimately fearing he could end up being extradited to the US over Wikileaks’ publishing of classified information.

However, he could now finally leave the Knightsbridge address.

The Australian, 45, tweeted a picture of himself smiling and relaxed following the announcement, with a lawyer for Wikileaks calling it the “end of his nightmare”.

Mr Assange has always denied the three sex offence allegations, made by two women.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in February 2016
Mr Assange on the balcony of the embassy in February 2016

A statement from the prosecutor said: “Director of Public Prosecution, Ms Marianne Ny, has today decided to discontinue the investigation regarding suspected rape (lesser degree) by Julian Assange.”

“He has tried to dodge all attempts to avoid Swedish and British legal authorities. My assessment is the transfer cannot be carried out in a foreseeable future,” Ms Ny told reporters.

“At this point, all possibilities to conduct the investigation are exhausted,” she added.

London’s Metropolitan Police said Mr Assange is still wanted for a “much less serious” offence – referring to a breach of bail in June 2012.

Assange supporter Pamela Anderson made several visits to the embassy
Assange supporter Pamela Anderson made several visits to the embassy

“The MPS will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence,” said a statement.

CIA director Mike Pompeo has described Wikileaks as a “hostile intelligence service”, fuelling fears by Mr Assange’s supporters that America will push hard to extradite him.

Wikileaks tweeted this morning: “UK refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received a US extradition warrant for Julian Assange. Focus now moves to UK.”

Chelsea Manning's first photo after she was released from prison. Pic: Twitter
Chelsea Manning fed Wikileaks thousands of classified documents. Pic: Twitter

“Julian Assange has been a victim of a huge abuse of procedure. We are very pleased and very moved, as this marks the end of his nightmare,” said Christophe Marchand, a member of his legal-aid team.

Former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who has just been freed from jail, fed the organisation hundreds of thousands of classified military reports on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

She also leaked messages from US embassies and consulates around the world – the so-called ‘Cablegate’ exposé.

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