‘Vic­tory’ for Ju­lian As­sange as Swe­den drops rape probe

Wik­ileaks: Aus­tralian has no plans to leave Ecuadorean em­bassy

The Courier & Advertiser (Dundee Edition) - - NEWS - ALAN JONES

Ju­lian As­sange has sig­nalled he will re­main in­side the Ecuado­rian em­bassy in Lon­don de­spite the Swedish au­thor­i­ties drop­ping a seven-year in­ves­ti­ga­tion against him.

The Wik­iLeaks founder made a rare ap­pear­ance on the bal­cony of the build­ing to hail the de­ci­sion by Swe­den’s Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Prose­cu­tions as an “im­por­tant vic­tory.”

He gave a clenched-fist salute to his sup­port­ers and scores of jour­nal­ists, be­fore main­tain­ing that a “le­gal con­flict” with the United States and the UK con­tin­ues.

The Aus­tralian, who has lived in­side the em­bassy for al­most five years, said the “road is far from over”, adding it was “ex­tremely re­gret­ful” that he was still be­ing threat­ened with ar­rest if he leaves the em­bassy.

Mr As­sange said he had spent seven years ei­ther un­der house ar­rest or liv­ing in­side the em­bassy, with­out charge, as he faced sex-re­lated al­le­ga­tions in Swe­den, which he has al­ways de­nied.

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.

“We have to­day won an im­por­tant vic­tory, but the road is far from over. “The proper war is just com­menc­ing.” He pledged that Wik­iLeaks will con­tinue dis­tribut­ing ma­te­rial about the activities of the CIA in the United States, and will “ac­cel­er­ate” its publi­ca­tions.

“The claim that the UK has the right to ar­rest me for seek­ing asy­lum in a case where there have been no charges is sim­ply un­ten­able.

“My le­gal staff have con­tacted the UK au­thor­i­ties and we hope to en­gage in a di­a­logue about what is the best way for­ward.”

Mr As­sange said the UK had re­fused to con­firm or deny whether there is a war­rant from the US for his ex­tra­di­tion, in­sist­ing he was happy to talk to the US Jus­tice Depart­ment.

He re­turned into the build­ing that has been his home for al­most five years with­out an­swer­ing ques­tions.

The Ecuado­rian gov­ern­ment is to step up ef­forts to al­low Mr As­sange to con­tinue his asy­lum in its coun­try af­ter Swe­den’s di­rec­tor of pub­lic prose­cu­tions, Mar­i­anne Ny, said she had de­cided to “dis­con­tinue” her in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Scot­land Yard said it was obliged to ex­e­cute a war­rant is­sued by West­min­ster Mag­is­trates’ Court for the ar­rest of Mr As­sange fol­low­ing his fail­ure to sur­ren­der to the court in June 2012, should he leave the em­bassy.

Asked if Bri­tain would now sup­port a re­quest to ex­tra­dite Mr As­sange to the United States, Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May said: “We look at ex­tra­di­tion re­quests on a case-by-case ba­sis.

“In re­la­tion to Ju­lian As­sange, any de­ci­sion that is taken about UK ac­tion in re­la­tion to him were he to leave the Ecuado­rian Em­bassy would be an op­er­a­tional mat­ter for the po­lice.”

Pic­ture: Getty.

Ju­lian As­sange speak­ing to the press from the bal­cony of the Ecuadorean em­bassy in Lon­don.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.