UK police say Assange still faces arrest


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange no longer is the subject of an active rape investigation in Sweden, but he remains holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London facing an unclear future because of uncertainty over whether American authorities will try to get him handed over next.

"Director of Public Prosecution, Marianne Ny, has today chose to discontinue the investigation regarding suspected rape by Julian Assange", the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Although Sweden has dropped its investigation of rape allegations against Assange, British police say they still intend to arrest him on a charge of jumping bail if he leaves the Ecuadorean Embassy.

Sweden asked Britain to extradite Assange for questioning, and in June 2012 he sought refuge in Ecuador's London embassy to avoid arrest.

WikiLeaks has repeatedly infuriated USA officials with the widespread release of sensitive secret documents related to military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and diplomatic relations around the world.

"This is a total victory for us", Assange's lawyer Per Samuelson said.

Director of Public Prosecutions Marianne Ny said she had chose 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 Australian, who has lived inside the embassy for nearly five years, said the "road is far from over", adding it was "extremely regretful" he was still being threatened with arrest if he leaves the embassy.

U.S. President Donald Trump said last month he would support any decision by the Justice Department to charge Assange, who contends the United States should recognize his First Amendment rights as a journalist.

But London's Metropolitan Police added that Assange is now wanted for a "much less serious offense" than the original sex crimes claims, so police "will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offense". Chief prosecutor Marianne Ny speaks during a press conference in Stockholm on Friday May 19, 2017. "Focus now moves to United Kingdom".

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WikiLeaks also had a provocative role in the 2016 US presidential campaign when it published emails written by Hillary Clinton campaign officials.

British officials said they do not comment on individual extradition cases.

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.

No. The investigation began after two women accused Assange of sexual offenses during a 2010 visit to Stockholm - allegations he denies.

Assange has said the sex was consensual.

Elisabeth Massi Fritz says her client is shocked by the Swedish decision but added that "she can't change her view that Assange has exposed her to a rape". According to the women's' allegations, after they compared stories, found similarities and began police initiations, the news was leaked to the press and Julian began claiming it was an attempt by the USA government to smear his character.

Scotland Yard reportedly ran up costs of over 12 million pounds with 24/7 police security presence outside the Ecuadorian Embassy building, which was scaled back in 2015.

In a report last year, the United Nations had called on Swedish and British authorities to free Assange from "arbitrary detention" in a report released last year and the UK had failed to overturn the findings on appeal.

"The important distinction is that her sentence was commuted by then president Barack Obama".