Wik­iLeaks’ As­sange says bat­tle is not over af­ter rape case dropped

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - DAVID KEYTON AND GRE­GORY KATZ STOCKHOLM —

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.

FRANK AUGSTEIN, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

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.

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