The U.S. still wants to extradite him on espionage charges if he leaves the Ecuadorian Embassy.
Sweden today announced it has decided to drop its investigation in to rape allegations made against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a move his lawyer described as a ‘total victory’.
The dramatic decision was revealed by Sweden’s top prosecutor, Marianne Ny, who said the probe had been ‘discontinued’ having effectively become a lost cause.
Assange, who denies the 2010 rape claims, has been living inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for almost five years and has been granted political asylum.
Sweden’s interest in his arrest has ended, but he is still wanted by the US and UK.
Met Police today confirmed there is a warrant for his arrest for not appearing in court in 2012, and that it was ‘obliged’ to execute the warrant if he leaves the embassy – but the importance of his case is now seen as ‘less serious’.
America wants to extradite the 45-year-old Australian to stand trial over the leaking of hundreds of thousands of secret military and diplomatic documents. The focus will now move to whether Assange will risk arrest by attempting to leave the embassy and flying to Ecuador to seek long-term asylum.
It is unclear whether America has already requested his extradition or whether they would be able to obtain a warrant before he flees Britain. The US recently described his arrest as a ‘priority’.
A lawyer for Assange’s accuser said his client was ‘shocked’ by Sweden’s decision and maintains her accusation. Today was the deadline for Sweden’s public prosecutor’s office to either renew the pan-European arrest warrant or lift it.
Its probe into Assange was ended because there was ‘no reason to believe that the decision to surrender him to Sweden can be executed in the foreseeable future’, prosecutors said.