Rape inquiry dropped, Assange remains in embassy
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.