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Julian Assange’s rape investigation has been discontinued

After seven years, Swedish authorities have dropped charges made against the Wikileaks founder

As of this morning, the Swedish prosecution authority has decided to drop the investigation into an allegation of rape against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. 

The decision was announced this morning via a statement by the Swedish director of public prosecutions, Marriane Ny. The discontinuing of the investigation brings to an end a seven-year legal standoff between Assange and Swedish authorities. A press conference will be held this afternoon, during which a more comprehensive statement will be given. 

The 45-year-old Australian activist has been seeking asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador, London since 2012 after he lost a court battle that would have prevented him from being extradited to Sweden. Assange has denied the allegations of rape and sexual assault that were made against him, with another such investigation being dropped in 2015 after the statute of limitations expired.

It is unlikely that decision to discontinue the investigation into these charges will result in Assange being able to leave the embassy, with the Metropolitan Police issuing a statement declaring that there is still a warrant out for his arrest after he breached bail conditions by entering the embassy. The statement reads:

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

It remains uncertain whether the US will seek Assange's extradition from the UK on charges of espionage relating to Wikileaks if he is to leave the embassy. Assange's lawyer has said in an interview that he hopes to seek asylum in France. 

This news comes only two days after the release of Chelsea Manning from military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, seven years into a 35-year sentence, after she leaked classified documents and videos to Wikileaks in in 2010.