Swedish prosecutor drops rape probe into WikiLeaks' Assange

Sweden's top prosecutor says she is dropping an investigation into a rape claim against Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange after almost seven years. Assange took refuge

Sweden's top prosecutor says she is dropping an investigation into a rape claim against Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange after almost seven years. Assange took refuge

British police said they would arrest Assange if he leaves the embassy on the relatively minor charge of jumping bail, but the more severe threat is a possible sealed USA indictment against him.

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

Sweden's top prosecutor says the investigation of alleged sexual offences could reopened if Julian Assange returns to Sweden before the statute of limitations lapses in 2020.

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".

"As a result of the decision to discontinue the investigation, the prosecutor has reversed the decision to detain him in his absence and withdrawn the EAW (European Arrest Warrant)". The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the Embassy.

British police said before the announcement that Assange is still wanted in Britain for jumping bail.

Assange has long feared he would be extradited to the United States if he was sent to Sweden. London police say he will still be arrested if he leaves the embassy building.

Mr Assange reacted to the news by tweeting a photo of himself smiling inside the Ecuadorian Embassy where he has been living for nearly five years.The European arrest warrant issued for Mr Assange is being revoked, sparking speculation he would be leaving the London embassy.

Swedish judges have refused to take into account the opinion of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which in February 2016 said Assange was effectively "arbitrarily detained" by Sweden and Britain and called for the arrest warrant to be annulled.

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Kim Dotcom, the founder of now-defunct file hosting service Megaupload, also responded to the news of the rape investigation against Assange being dropped in Sweden.

On Friday, Wikileaks tweeted the "focus now moves to the UK", saying the country had "refused to confirm or deny whether it has already received a United States extradition warrant for Julian Assange".

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. My assessment is the transfer can not be carried out in a foreseeable future", Ms Ny told reporters.

"Now that all appeals are exhausted I expect that the United Kingdom and Sweden will comply with their global obligations and set me free", Mr Assange said following the ruling.

Assange, 45, has been holed up in the embassy since 2012 after skipping bail to avoid extradition to Sweden over the allegation of rape, which he denies.

November: Assange loses a legal move in a Swedish appeal court aimed at revoking his arrest warrant.

WikiLeaks claims "victory" after then U.S. president Barack Obama commutes the sentence of Chelsea Manning, a soldier who leaked a huge amount of defence department files published by WikiLeaks, and who is released on May 17.

It ends a three-year police operation which is estimated to have cost more than 12 million pounds ($17 million).

The investigation was dropped days after Chelsea Manning, who provided WikiLeaks with classified intelligence on Iraq and Afghanistan that shocked the world, was freed from prison.

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