Rape in­quiry dropped, As­sange re­mains in em­bassy

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - NATION & WORLD - By Gre­gory Katz and David Key­ton

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

Swe­den’s top pros­e­cu­tor dropped a long-run­ning in­quiry into a rape claim against As­sange on Fri­day, say­ing there was noway to de­tain or charge him “in the fore­see­able fu­ture” be­cause of his pro­tected sta­tus in­side the em­bassy.

Pros­e­cu­tor Mar­i­anne Ny said she could not judge whether the Aus­tralian na­tive was guilty or in­no­cent be­cause the in­vesti-gation had been thwarted. Ny said the case could be re­opened if As­sange, 45, comes to Swe­den be­fore the statute of lim­i­ta­tions ex­pires in 2020.

Bri­tish po­lice said they would ar­rest As­sange if he leaves the em­bassy on the rel­a­tively mi­nor charge of jump­ing bail, but the more se­vere threat is a pos­si­ble sealed U.S. in­dict­ment against him.

The Wik­iLeaks provo­ca­teur emerged Fri­day to ad­dress the media on the em­bassy’s bal­cony.

He said the day marked an “im­por­tant vic­tory,” but noted that he still could be pros­e­cuted by the United States.

As­sange also lashed out at Swe­den for tak­ing seven years to in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions he main­tained were base­less. His chil­dren had grown up with­out him, he said.

“That is not some­thing I can forgive, or for­get,” he said, claim­ing he had suf­fered a “ter­ri­ble in­jus­tice” while liv­ing un­der house ar­rest or hid­den away in­side the em­bassy with­out ever be­ing charged with a crime.

Wik­iLeaks has 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 also had a role in the 2016 U.S. pres­i­den­tial cam­paign when it pub­lished emails writ­ten by Hil­lary Clin­ton’s cam­paign of­fi­cials.

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