Sweden drops Assange probe, but he still faces arrest in UK

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on 2016. He has sought asylum there since 2012 when Sweden filed an extradition request on the allegation of rape — an allegation Swedish prosecutors said Frid

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on 2016. He has sought asylum there since 2012 when Sweden filed an extradition request on the allegation of rape — an allegation Swedish prosecutors said Frid

She told a news conference in Stockholm that the investigation could be reopened if Assange returns to Sweden before the statute of limitations lapses in 2020.

The Ecuadorian government is to step up efforts to allow Mr Assange to continue his asylum in its country after Sweden's Director of Public Prosecutions Marianne Ny said she had chose to "discontinue" her investigation.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says his legal team will contact United Kingdom officials to seek a way forward in resolving in resolving his status. That means Assange, who has been seeking refuge in Ecuador's embassy in London since 2012, is no longer facing charges in Sweden.

The sun-starved WikiLeaks provocateur, looking healthy if pale, emerged Friday afternoon to address the media in the open air of the embassy's balcony. He has been there ever since, fearing that if he is arrested he might ultimately be extradited to the United States.

"In view of the fact that all prospects of pursuing the investigation under present circumstances are exhausted, it appears that it is no longer proportionate to maintain the arrest of Julian Assange in his absence". His children had grown up without him, he said.

Speaking from the balcony of Ecuador's London embassy, the WikiLeaks founder says his seven-year legal ordeal - which he calls unjust detention - "is not something that I can forgive".

However, police in London said they were still obliged to arrest Assange if he left the embassy for skipping bail.

That's unclear. Assange suspects there is a secret US indictment against him for WikiLeaks' publication of leaked classified American documents, which has infuriated USA officials.

"We have been waiting a long time for this decision", Christophe Marchand, a member of Assange's Brussels-based legal team, told AFP.

WikiLeaks has repeatedly infuriated USA officials with the widespread release of sensitive secret documents related to military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and diplomatic relations around the world.

During last year's USA presidential election campaign, WikiLeaks published emails from Hillary Clinton's staff and the Democratic National Committee which some believe helped to lose her the election to Trump.

But the United Kingdom authorities indicated Friday that Assange still faces arrest there were he to leave the embassy.

Ecuador, which has granted Assange asylum, says it will step up diplomatic efforts to gain him safe passage to the Latin American country.

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Assange is wanted by British police for extradition to Sweden.

Prosecutors first interviewed Assange in November past year in the Ecuadorean embassy. He did not take shouted questions from the reporters assembled outside and would not say if he plans to leave the embassy located in the posh Knightsbridge neighborhood.

The day began with the dramatic announcement in Sweden that the rape investigation was being suspended.

It is not known if USA officials are seeking Assange's arrest because of a possible sealed indictment.

Last month, President Donald Trump said he would support any decision by the Justice Department to charge Assange.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has suggested that the arrest of Assange could be an American priority, saying last month the USA was "stepping up our efforts on all leaks". "So we don't make any statements on the issue of guilt", she said via a translator.

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

British officials said they do not comment on individual extradition cases.

"But it by no means erases seven years of detention without charge under house arrest and nearly five years here in this embassy without sunlight", Assange said.

WikiLeaks complained about the lack of clarity in Assange's legal situation.

Assange's lawyer, Per Samuelson, called the development "a total victory". It is not clear if that may change now that the investigation has been dropped. The rape allegation, the more serious claim, remained under investigation. Prosecutors were trying to determine, among other things, if Assange had sex with the woman while she was asleep and without using a condom.

He argues that the sex was consensual and has denounced the accusations as "politically motived".

Though this is a much lesser offense, it remains a possibility that if Assange were to leave the premises of that embassy, he might yet be arrested by British police.

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