Swedish prosecutors said on Friday that they had closed a seven-year rape investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but British police said he would still be arrested if he left the Ecuadorean embassy in London where he has been holed up.
“Director of Public Prosecution, Marianne Ny, has today decided to discontinue the investigation regarding suspected rape by Julian Assange,” it said in a statement.
Ny later told a news conference in Stockholm that she saw no chance of extraditing Assange. “He has tried to dodge all attempts to avoid Swedish and British legal authorities. My assessment is the transfer cannot be carried out in a foreseeable future.”
He feared Sweden would in turn hand him over to the United States to face prosecution over WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents in one of the largest information leaks in US history.
“The Metropolitan Police Service is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the Embassy.”
Soon after the announcement, a photo of a smiling Assange was tweeted by this Twitter handle.
Assange was questioned in November in the presence of a Swedish prosecutor. He has repeatedly reiterated his innocence and said the sex was consensual.
Ny and Chief Prosecutor Ingrid Isgren were set to hold a press conference on the decision at 12:00 (3:30pm IST) on Friday.
The investigation has suffered from endless procedural complications since it began in 2010.
The statute of limitations on the rape allegation was due to expire in August 2020.
(With agency inputs)