Swedish prosecutor drops rape probe into WikiLeaks' Assange


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange no longer is the subject of an active rape investigation in Sweden, but he remains holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London facing an unclear future because of uncertainty over whether American authorities will try to get him handed over next.

Friday's announcement means Assange is no longer under any investigation in Sweden.

Director of Public Prosecutions Marianne Ny said she had made a decision to "discontinue" the investigation into an alleged sex offence, although it is unlikely to lead to Mr Assange immediately leaving the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been living for nearly five years.

He also says he would be "happy" to discuss the case with the U.S. Department of Justice despite U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying that arresting Assange is a priority.

The choice to drop the investigation comes in the wake of a letter sent by the Ecuadorian government, on May 12, claiming that the Swedish government demonstrated a "lack of initiative" to finish the investigation and that there had been a "serious failure" by the prosecutor. He has been there ever since, fearing that if he was in custody he might ultimately be extradited 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.

British police have warned that Assange still faces immediate arrest if he sets foot outside the embassy for a prior incident of bail jumping.

Asked if Britain would now support a request to extradite Mr Assange to the United States, Prime Minister Theresa May said: "We look at extradition requests on a case-by-case basis".

The Metropolitan Police (MPS) statement came as it emerged that Swedens director of public prosecutions, Marianne Ny, had made a decision to drop the rape investigation into the Wikileaks founder.

Assange has said the United Kingdom is refusing to confirm or deny whether America has made an extradition request - and he insisted he is happy to engage with the US Justice Department.

More news: Mortgage Rates Edge Down

British officials said they do not comment on individual extradition cases. She was freed Wednesday, having had her sentence commuted by outgoing President Barack Obama before he left office.

The US Justice Department investigation of Assange and WikiLeaks dates back to at least 2010, when the site posted thousands of files stolen by the former US Army intelligence analyst.

"Focus now moves to United Kingdom", a Wikileaks spokesperson said.

Mr Assange originally faced three sex allegations, all of which he denied. According to the women's' allegations, after they compared stories, found similarities and began police initiations, the news was leaked to the press and Julian began claiming it was an attempt by the USA government to smear his character. Julian Assange described her release as a victory.

Sweden's top prosecutor says the investigation of alleged sexual offenses could reopened if Julian Assange returns to Sweden before the statute of limitations lapses in 2020. Prosecutors were trying to determine, among other things, if Assange had sex with the woman while she was asleep and without using a condom.

But it adds that Assange is now wanted for a "much less serious offense" than the original sex crimes claims, and police "will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offense".

British police kept up round-the-clock guard outside the embassy until December 2015, when the operation was scaled back, in part because of the cost, which had exceeded 11 million pounds (over $17.5 million at the time).

Assange has said that all the sex was consensual.

Keyton reported from Stockholm.