UK police say Assange still faces arrest

Pauline Gross
May 20, 2017

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

Prosecutors in Sweden said on Friday that they would drop their investigation into Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who sought refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London five years ago after the authorities in Stockholm opened a preliminary rape inquiry against him.

Moreover, the Justice Department in Washington was reconsidering last month whether to charge Mr. Assange for his role in the disclosure of highly classified information.

USA and British officials Friday declined to say if the United States has requested Assange's extradition.

"Westminster Magistrates' Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Julian Assange following him failing to surrender to the court on the 29 June 2012".

He says says his battle is not over, and "the proper war is just commencing".

He feared Sweden would 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. But some experts said the development would put him in an even more precarious legal situation, if the USA has a sealed indictment for his arrest.

"This unnecessary delay was despite the repeated insistence from the Ecuadorian government - ever since the granting of asylum in 2012 - that this interview was not only possible but that Ecuador would facilitate its carrying out in our Embassy".

Samuelson tells The Associated Press that "this was consensual sex between two adults and nothing else", adding Assange was now "a free man". "Finally we got there".

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded Russian Federation was behind the hacking in an effort to interfere with the USA political process, damage Clinton's campaign and ultimately help Republican Donald Trump win the White House. Elisabeth Massi Fritz says her client is shocked but adds that "she can't change her view that Assange has exposed her to a rape". He cited public statements by United States officials saying the U.S. wanted the arrest of Assange as grounds.

Mr Assange's lawyer, Per E. Samuelson, told Swedish media that Mr Assange could leave the embassy. "He is the only political prisoner in Western Europe".

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"At this point, all possibilities to conduct the investigation are exhausted".

A lawyer for the woman who alleged she was raped by Assange said "it's a scandal that a suspected rapist can avoid the judicial system and thus avoid a trial in court". "So we don't make any statements on the issue of guilt", she said via a translator.

Ny told a news conference in Stockholm: "He has tried to dodge all attempts to avoid Swedish and British legal authorities. My assessment is the transfer can not be carried out in a foreseeable future".

Although the worldwide sexual assault investigation has now been discontinued, Metropolitan Police said he still faces arrest for the lesser charge of failing to surrender himself earlier in the process.

The Metropolitan Police said officers are still "obliged to execute" an outstanding arrest warrant despite Swedish prosecutors announcing they were repealing another arrest warrant for Assange.

"Whilst Mr Assange was wanted on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for an extremely serious offence, the [Met Police] response reflected the serious nature of that crime". The South American country has granted him asylum, but it is not clear how Assange would travel there without the permission of British authorities. He claimed the allegations against him were part of a plot to see him extradited to the USA over his involvement with WikiLeaks.

After the Swedish announcement.

Wikileaks tweeted on Friday morning: "UK refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received a U.S. extradition warrant for Julian Assange. Focus now moves to United Kingdom".

British police said before the announcement that Assange is still wanted in Britain for jumping bail. There were initially two separate allegations being investigated, but one was dropped in 2015 because the statute of limitations ran out. He said Assange had convinced Swedish prosecutors during a November meeting previous year that he was not guilty of any sex offenses.

"Chief Prosecutor Marianne Ny has today chose to shut down the preliminary investigation regarding suspected rape involving Julian Assange", the Swedish prosecutors' office said in a statement.

Assange has been holed up inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012. He said the day marked an "important victory", but noted that he still could be prosecuted by the United States.

Other reports by GizPress

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