LONDON (AP) - Swedish prosecutors have dropped their investigation into a rape allegation against Julian Assange, nearly seven years after it began and five years after the WikiLeaks founder sought refuge inside Ecuador's London embassy.
Assange's Swedish lawyer Per E. Samuelson declared Friday that "this is a total victory for Julian Assange".
(AP Photo/Matt Dunham). People gather outside of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Friday May 19, 2017.
He says says his battle is not over, and "the proper war is just commencing".
Authorities in the United States have prepared charges to seek his arrest, USA officials familiar with the matter told CNN last month.
His supporters believe the sex crime allegations that have bedeviled Assange for years were politically motivated.
Mr Assange thanked the government of Ecuador for granting him political asylum despite "intense pressure", as well as his legal team and others who had stood by him. Long added: "This has gone on long enough".
Julian Assange's lawyer is asking French president Emmanuel Macron to intervene in support of the WikiLeaks founder. He did not take shouted questions from the reporters assembled outside and would not say if he plans to leave the embassy located in the posh Knightsbridge neighborhood. Chief prosecutor Marianne Ny attends a press conference in Stockholm on Friday May 19, 2017.
"The cause [for terminating the investigation] is that he had been avoiding us for so long". At the point when a prosecutor has exhausted the possibilities to continue the investigation, the prosecutor is obliged to discontinue the investigation. "To conduct a preliminary investigation for so many years and today make a decision to close the investigation is something I am very critical of", she said.
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. She says: "We don't make any statement of guilty or not". The Supreme Court considered the public interest aspect of the investigation, as well as the risk that Julian Assange would evade having legal proceedings against him, to be of continued importance, and took the view that the continued arrest warrant was proportionate despite the amount of time that had passed.
Ny told a news conference in Stockholm: "He has tried to dodge all attempts to avoid Swedish and British legal authorities. My assessment is the transfer can not be carried out in a foreseeable future".
Ny says she has withdrawn a European arrest warrant. However, British police say Assange still faces arrest for jumping bail if he leaves the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
Prosecutors frustrated by Assange's refusal to return to Sweden for questioning eventually came to London to meet with him at the Ecuadorean Embassy previous year.
"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 offense", the Metropolitan statement added.
British officials said they do not comment on individual extradition cases. 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.
After the Swedish announcement.
WikiLeaks tweeted after the Swedish announcement: "UK refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received a United States extradition warrant for Julian Assange. Focus now moves to United Kingdom". Sweden's top prosecutor said Friday she is dropping an investigation into a rape claim against WikiLeaks founder Ju.
The Ecuadorian government is to step up efforts to allow Mr Assange to continue his asylum in its country after Sweden's Director of Public Prosecutions Marianne Ny said she had chose to "discontinue" her investigation.
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. Recent comments by the United States attorney general and director of the Central Intelligence Agency demonstrate the obvious need of Mr. Assange for asylum.