19 May 2017

Sweden drops Assange rape investigation

9:40 pm on 19 May 2017

Sweden's director of public prosecutions has decided to drop the rape investigation into Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Julian Assange

Julian Assange Photo: AFP

The move comes ahead of a Stockholm court's examination of a demand by Mr Assange's lawyers that Sweden drop his European arrest warrant.

Mr Assange has lived in the Ecuadoran embassy in London since 2012, trying to avoid extradition to Sweden.

He fears if he went to Sweden he could face extradition to the US.

He could face trial in the US over the leaking hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic documents.

A brief statement ahead of a press conference by the prosecutor later on Friday said: "Director of Public Prosecution, Ms Marianne Ny, has today decided to discontinue the investigation regarding suspected rape (lesser degree) by Julian Assange."

Mr Assange has always denied the rape allegations against him and was interviewed in the embassy in London six months ago in the presence of Swedish officials.

But if he leaves the embassy he could be detained by UK police and face extradition to the US.

After the news was announced on Friday, Wikileaks tweeted that the "focus now moves to the UK", saying the UK had "refused to confirm or deny whether it has already received a US extradition warrant for Julian Assange".

- BBC

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