MALMO, Sweden — Swedish prosecutors dropped a rape investigation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange Friday, but British authorities still intend to arrest him if he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Assange was accused of sexually assaulting two women during a visit to Sweden in 2010. The prosecutor issued an arrest warrant three months later, but Assange has managed to avoid detention by seeking refuge at the embassy.
Assange, 45, refused to cooperate as he feared Sweden would extradite him to the U.S., where he could stand trial for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents.
Prosecutor Marianne Ny said she’s exhausted all available options to further the case against Assange.
“I’ve withdrawn the international arrest warrant to extradite him to Sweden, and I’ve decided to drop the investigation,” Ny said at a press conference Friday.
Claes Borgström, the legal representative for the two alleged victims in the case, expressed his disappointment over the news.
“Julian Assange has assaulted these women and he should have answered in front of a Swedish court,” Borgström told newspaper Aftonbladet.
Per E Samuelsson, Assange’s attorney, celebrated the decision but said it’s unclear whether his client will leave the embassy in the near future.
“We’ve won the case,” Samuelsson told public radio station SR.
The Metropolitan Police Service in London issued a statement saying they may still arrest Assange if he decides to leave the embassy.
“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 MPS will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offense,” the statement said.
The statute of limitations for rape is 10 years in Sweden. He could still be prosecuted if new evidence against him emerges before August, 2020.
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