Julian Assange probe dropped by Swedish prosecutors

Julian Assange probe dropped by Swedish prosecutors

Sweden's top prosecutor said Friday she's dropping an investigation into a rape claim against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after nearly seven years because there's no possibility of arresting him "in the foreseeable future".

Friday was the deadline for the public prosecutor's office to either renew or lift Assange's arrest warrant before a Stockholm court. That means Assange, who has been seeking refuge in Ecuador's embassy in London since 2012, is no longer facing charges in Sweden.

He feared being extradited to the United States if sent to Sweden.

The 45-year-old Australian has always denied the 2010 allegations, which he feared would see him extradited to the United States and tried over the leaking of hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. military and diplomatic documents.

The Swedish Prosecution Authority said in a statement Friday that Marianne Ny "has made a decision to discontinue the investigation".

Mr Assange has not set foot outside the building for five years, ultimately fearing he could end up being extradited to the USA over Wikileaks' publishing of classified information.

"If Julian Assange were to return to Sweden before the statue of limitation for the crime elapses in August 2020 the preliminary investigation could however be reopened", Chief Prosecutor Marianne Ny said at a press conference on Friday.

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The former president and Netanyahu had a fraught relationship during his term because of stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The move angered Israel and officials asked the White House for an explanation.

Ny said that the decision to discontinue the investigation did not relate to the question of whether Assange was guilty or not, but rather because it was impossible to proceed with the investigation: "We don't make any statements on the issue of guilt".

Assange's Swedish lawyer last month filed a new motion demanding that the arrest warrant be lifted after US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in April that arresting Assange would be "a priority".

Prosecutors began investigating Assange, 45, in 2010.

"He has tried to dodge all attempts to avoid Swedish and British legal authorities".

The Metropolitan Police force says that there is a British warrant for Assange's arrest after he juimped bail in 2012, and it "is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the embassy".

But it adds that Assange is now wanted for a "much less serious offense" than the original sex crimes claims, and police "will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offense".

Katz reported from London.

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