WikiLeaks’ Assange says battle is not over after rape case dropped
Sweden’s top prosecutor on Friday dropped an investigation into a rape claim against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after almost seven years, saying that’s because there’s no possibility of arresting him “in the foreseeable future.”
The announcement by prosecutor Marianne Ny means the outspoken WikiLeaks leader no longer faces sex crime allegations in Sweden, although British police said he was still wanted for jumping bail in Britain in 2012.
It does not clear Assange’s name, however, and some experts say it puts him into an even more precarious legal situation if the U.S. has — as some suspect — a sealed indictment for his arrest.
Speaking from the balcony of Ecuador’s London embassy, where he took refuge in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, Assange said his seven-year legal ordeal — which he called unjust detention — “is not something that I can forgive.”
He says his battle is not over, and “the proper war is just commencing.” Assange, 45, believes the United States wants him extradited and arrested in connection with WikiLeaks’ publication of classified U.S. documents.
He nonetheless called Sweden’s decision to drop the rape investigation “an important victory for me and for the UN human rights system.”
Assange has been holed up at Ec- uador’s embassy in London to avoid extradition to answer questions about sex-crime allegations from two women. The arrangement was necessary, he had said, to keep Swedish authorities from turning him over 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 U.S. documents.
Assange said Friday his legal team would contact U.K. officials to seek a way forward in resolving his status. British police say they still intend to arrest him, if he leaves the Ecuadorean embassy.
Assange also said he would be “happy” to discuss the case with the U.S. Department of Justice despite U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying that Assange’s arrest was a priority.
It’s not known if U.S. officials have asked British police to arrest Assange because of a possible sealed U.S. indictment against him. A U.S. Department of Justice spokesperson on Friday declined to comment on the case.
Ny said the case could be reopened if Assange returns to Sweden before the statute of limitations expires in 2020.
Assange and WikiLeaks have repeatedly infuriated U.S. officials with the widespread release of sensitive secret documents related to military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and diplomatic relations around the world.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden. On Friday, Sweden’s top prosecutor dropped the investigation into a rape claim against him.