WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange pictured smiling as he’s set to be a ‘free man’ after prosecutors drop rape probe

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has posted a picture of himself with a beaming smile after Swedish prosecutors dropped the rape case against him.

The decision by Sweden’s Director of Public Prosecution brings to an end a seven-year legal stand-off which saw Assange holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

Assange, 45, took refuge there to avoid extradition to Sweden over the allegation – which he always denied.

In a statement released today prosecutors said: “Chief Prosecutor Marianne Ny has today decided to discontinue the preliminary investigation regarding suspected rape concerning Julian Assange.”

The Australian has refused to travel to Sweden, saying he fears further extradition to the US over WikiLeaks’ release of 500,000 secret military files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

(Photo: Twitter / Julian Assange)
The rape accusation against Assange dates from August 2010 (Photo: PA)

The move comes ahead of a Stockholm court examining a demand from Assange’s lawyers that they drop his European arrest warrant.

Shortly after the announcement, Assange posted a pictures of himself smiling to his Twitter account.

His lawyer revealed he will seek asylum in France.

Met Police then released a statement saying that Assange is still wanted for the lesser charge of failing to turn in court.

However this is not thought to mean police will be waiting for Assange should he leave the embassy.

The Met said: “Mr Assange remains wanted for a much less serious offence. The MPS will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence.”

The rape accusation against Assange dates from August 2010 when the alleged victim, who says she met him at a WikiLeaks conference in Stockholm, filed a complaint.

She accuses him of having sex with her as she slept without using a condom despite repeatedly having denied him unprotected sex.

“I am entirely innocent,” Assange wrote in a 19-page testimony released in December 2016.

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for seven years (Photo: AFP)

He argues that the sex was consensual and that the accusations were “politically motived”.

Today’s announcement follows a letter sent to the Swedish government by the government of Ecuador saying there had been a “serious failure” by the prosecutor, including a “lack of initiative” to complete inquiries.

The letter raised questions over developments in the US since the election of Donald Trump as president, including a speech by the CIA director, Mike Pompeo, describing WikiLeaks as a “hostile intelligence service” and a threat to US national security.

The move comes just two days after the US released former soldier Chelsea Manning, just seven years into her 35 sentence for disclosing top secret military documents to Assange.

View image on Twitter

Last February, the Metropolitan Police said they would arrest Assange if he left the embassy, despite reports that suggested a UN panel had ruled in his favour.

They said in a statement today: “Westminster Magistrates’ Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Julian Assange following him failing to surrender to the court on the 29 June 2012.

“The Metropolitan Police Service is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the Embassy.

British police said they would arrest Assange if he left the embassy last February (Photo: Reuters)

“Whilst Mr Assange was wanted on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for an extremely serious offence, the MPS response reflected the serious nature of that crime.

“Now that the situation has changed and the Swedish authorities have discontinued their investigation into that matter, Mr Assange remains wanted for a much less serious offence. The MPS will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence.

“The MPS will not comment further on the operational plan.

“The priority for the MPS must continue to be arresting those who are currently wanted in the Capital in connection with serious violent or sexual offences for the protection of Londoners.”

Mirror






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