Sweden drops Assange investigation, United Kingdom police says he still faces arrest

Posted May 20, 2017

Sweden's top prosecutor said Friday she is dropping an investigation into a rape claim against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after nearly seven years.

British police said that Assange would still be arrested if he leaves the Ecuadorean embassy.

"Westminster Magistrates' Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Julian Assange following him failing to surrender to the court on the June 29, 2012", London police said in a statement. He has always denied wrongdoing. Assange has indicated concerns that he may face indictment in the United States for his role at the helm of the WikiLeaks.

However a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said that despite Sweden's European arrest warrant for the WikiLeaks founder being lifted, he was under a separate warrant for the lesser charge of skipping bail.

"It is a scandal that a suspected rapist can escape justice and thereby avoid the courts.my client is shocked and no decision to (end the case) can make her change that Assange exposed her to rape", lawyer Elisabeth Fritz said, according to AFP.

Manning was released on Wednesday after spending seven years in a US military prison for passing the documents to WikiLeaks.

Meanwhile, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Guillaume Long urged Britain to "grant safe passage" out of the country to Assange.

"As long as we fear that this is a case of political persecution.as long as we fear for Mr. Assange's integrity and human rights, we will continue with our policy of offering him asylum", Long said in a telephone interview.

The UK government declined to comment Friday on whether the US has asked for Assange's extradition, but last month US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Assange's arrest was a "priority". "We are not making a statement about his guilt", she stressed, adding that the investigation could be reopened if Assange came to Sweden before the statute of limitations runs out in 2020.

Prosecutors first interviewed Assange in November previous year in the Ecuadorean embassy.

A lawyer for the woman who accused Assange of rape slammed the decision to drop the investigation.