UK police say Assange still faces arrest

Julian Assange

Sweden drops Julian Assange rape investigation

Swedish prosecutors said on Friday (May 19) they would drop a preliminary investigation into an allegation of rape against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, bringing to an end a seven-year legal stand-off.

The 45-year-old has lived in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 to avoid facing charges in Sweden.

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.

In January, Assange said he stood by an offer to go to the United States providing his rights were upheld and if former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who was responsible for a 2010 leak of classified materials to Assange's anti-secrecy group, was freed. Ny said she will call back the European arrest warrant on Assange. Lawyer David Allen Green, who has followed the case, tweeted: "Once outside embassy, Assange more at risk from any U.S. extradition attempt than if he had gone to Sweden".

Meanwhile, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Guillaume Long urged Britain to "grant safe passage" out of the country to Assange.

The decision comes after Assange's Swedish lawyer filed a motion which demanded that the arrest warrant be lifted, after US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in April that arresting the WikiLeaks co-founder would be a "priority".

"The decision to discontinue the preliminary investigation is not because we've been able to make a full assessment of the evidence in this case, but because we didn't see any possibilities to advance the investigation forward".

Assange, an Australian national, was questioned in November in the presence of a Swedish prosecutor.

Assange's lawyer, Per Samuelson, hailed Sweden's decision to drop the investigation as "a total victory for us".

Prosecutors first interviewed Assange in November past year in the Ecuadorean embassy.

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