Rape inquiry dropped, WikiLeaks' Assange remains in embassy

Rape inquiry dropped, WikiLeaks' Assange remains in embassy

Rape inquiry dropped, WikiLeaks' Assange remains in embassy

Julian Assange said on Friday that Sweden's decision to drop a rape investigation against him is a "victory" and he is looking for dialogue with British and US authorities over his future.

He has been living at the Ecuadoran embassy in London since 2012, and the British police have said they will arrest Assange as soon as he walks out of the embassy because he has broken his conditions for bail - a relatively minor offence under British law - by failing to surrender on June 29, 2012 for extradition to Sweden.

"In order to proceed with the case, Julian Assange would have to be formally notified of the criminal suspicions against him".

Assange, 45, took refuge in Ecuador's embassy in London in 2012 to escape extradition to Sweden to answer questions about sex-crime allegations from two women.

Per E Samuelson, Assange's lawyer in Sweden, told AP that it was a "day of victory" for the WikiLeaks founder.

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He said: "No (I'm not confident he will stay), because it's a long time he' been thinking about his future". "But, okay. We'll see what it will be, I don't know what will happen if he doesn't give an answer".

Assange hailed a "victory" and said his lawyers were now seeking a "dialogue" with British authorities about his future but gave no further details and repeated his claim that the U.S. is planning to extradite him for revealing state secrets.

"It is extremely worrying that six months after the hearing at the Embassy of Ecuador in the United Kingdom, the Swedish prosecutor's office has not yet decided on the judicial situation of Julian Assange", the Ecuadoran Foreign Ministry said in the letter seen by AFP. British police say they will arrest him on a charge of jumping bail if he tries to leave. Swedish prosecutors dropped cases of alleged sexual misconduct when the statute of limitations ran out in 2015, leaving only the rape allegation. She said that the abandonment of Assange's pursuit was not a statement of whether or not he was guilty.

It's not known if USA officials have asked British police to arrest Assange because of a possible sealed US indictment against him.

USA prosecutors have been drafting a memo that looks at charges against Assange and WikiLeaks members that possibly include conspiracy, theft of government property and violations of the Espionage Act, according to The Washington Post.

"It is no longer proportionate to maintain the arrest of Julian Assange in his absence", she said.

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Mr Assange said the United Kingdom had refused to confirm or deny whether there is a warrant from the US for his extradition, insisting he was happy to talk to the US Justice Department.

Assange could fight any US extradition request in the British courts, a process that could take years. Prosecutors were trying to determine, among other things, if Assange had sex with the woman while she was asleep and without using a condom.

"Julian Assange has been a victim of a huge abuse of procedure". The rape allegation, the more serious claim, remained under investigation.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said he wanted to crack down on leaks and thus go after Assange, but Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, told The New York Times that Assange did nothing wrong.

Asked if London would now support a request to extradite Assange to the United States, British Prime Minister Theresa May said: "We look at extradition requests on a case-by-case basis".

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Last month, the Department of Justice stated that it was reconsidering whether or not to charge the fugitive for his assistance in helping Chelsea Manning, a transgender Army soldier who had released classified government information. The maximum sentence for that offense is a year in prison.

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