Swedish prosecutors today dropped a seven-year rape investigation into Julian Assange, a legal victory for the WikiLeaks founder who has been holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London since 2012.
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.
The Metropolitan Police Service in London said after the news was announced that it remained obliged to arrest Assange should he leave the Ecuadoran embassy on a lesser charge of failing to surrender to a court, the BBC reported.
Per Samuelson, Assange's Swedish lawyer, told reporters the decision represented a total victory. However, it said that it would now provide a "proportionate" level of resources, meaning it may stand down much of its guard.
Assange sought political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012 and has been living there since, fearing subsequent extradition to the US. President Donald Trump has said it is "OK" with him if Sessions does that.
The EAW against Assange was formally withdrawn at Westminster magistrates court on Friday morning, the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed.
The 45-year-old Australian computer hacker was wanted in Sweden for questioning over a rape allegation stemming from a 2010 visit.
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. But I regret that Julian Assange was not brought to the Swedish court of law to answer the allegations against him. "Therefore the investigation is discontinued", Ny said, according to The Guardian. The UK Home Office said the decision to drop the rape investigation was a matter for the Swedish authorities, and not one in which the British government had any involvement.
"This implies that we can now demonstrate that the United States has a will to take action. this is why we ask for the arrest warrant to be cancelled so that Julian Assange can fly to Ecuador and enjoy his political asylum", he told AFP at the time.
Assange has voiced concern that if he traveled to Sweden in relation to the case he would face extradition to the U.S. over WikiLeaks' publishing of USA military documents.
Public declarations such as this constituted an "obvious risk" for Assange, the letter said.
Ny told a news conference in Stockholm: "He has tried to dodge all attempts to avoid Swedish and British legal authorities".
The Metropolitan Police stopped its round the clock presence outside the Embassy in October 2015 amid controversy over the escalating cost of the exercise - believed to be over £12 million.
Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning served seven years in prison for giving classified material to WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks says the ball is now in Britain's court after Sweden's decision to drop its rape investigation of Julian Assange.
A British government source would not confirm or deny if the United States had made a request to extradite Assange until an arrest had been made.