News Sweden drops rape probe against Julian Assange (Lead)

Sweden drops rape probe against Julian Assange (Lead)

Stockholm, May 19 (IANS) The Swedish prosecutor’s office announced on Friday that an investigation against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for alleged rape has been closed.

Chief Prosecutor Marianne Ny filed a request to the Stockholm District Court to revoke his arrest warrant, apparently ending a seven-year stand-off, the BBC reported.

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

Australian national, Assange, 45, has lived in the Ecuadoran embassy in London since 2012, trying to avoid extradition.

He feared being extradited to the US if sent to Sweden.

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

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, reports the BBC.

After the news was announced, 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”.

Also after the announcement, an image of Assange smiling was posted to his Twitter account.

–IANS
ksk/bg

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