UK police say Assange still faces arrest

In London, police say they are "obliged" to arrest Assange if he leaves the embassy, for breaching the terms of his bail in 2012.

Assange's Swedish lawyer Per E. Samuelson declared Friday that "this is a total victory for Julian Assange".

Prosecutor Marianne Ny said she could not judge whether the 45-year-old Australian native was guilty or innocent because the investigation had been thwarted.

However, if Assange were to return to Sweden before the statute of limitations for the suspected offenses expires in August 2020, the investigation could be reopened, she said.

A seven-year rape investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was dropped by Swedish prosecutors on Friday - but British police warned he still faced arrest.

Lawyer David Allen Green, who has followed the case, tweeted: "Once outside embassy, Assange more at risk from any USA extradition attempt than if he had gone to Sweden". In a separate statement, the prosecutor noted that in Sweden a criminal investigation has to be conducted as quickly as possible.

Assange is wanted by British police for extradition to Sweden. His children had grown up without him, he said. That is not something I can forgive.

He has always denied the claims, which he feared would see him extradited to the United States and tried over the leaking of hundreds of thousands of secret USA military and diplomatic documents. 24 - Assange says WikiLeaks will have to stop publishing secret cables and devote itself to fund-raising. He could face trial in the United States over leaking hundreds of thousands of secret USA military and diplomatic documents. During the presidential campaign a year ago, WikiLeaks came under criticism for distributing hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee.

Both U.S. and British officials have declined to comment on whether there is a warrant for Assange's arrest.

"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.

However, reporters have now gathered outside the Knightsbridge embassy in the expectation he could finally leave after four years and 334 days.

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

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

Assange also said he would be "happy" to discuss the case with the U.S. Department of Justice despite U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying that Assange's arrest was a priority.

It's not known if US officials have asked British police to arrest Assange because of a possible sealed USA indictment against him.

Prime Minister Theresa May earlier said any extradition case would be looked at on a "case-by-case basis".

However, British police said he is still a wanted man for failing to surrender in the country in 2012.

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

"UK refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received a United States extradition warrant for Julian Assange. Focus now moves to United Kingdom", the group tweeted.

Authorities launched an investigation in 2010 after two women came forward accusing Assange of rape and sexual assault. "My client is shocked and no decision to (end the case) can make her change that Assange exposed her to rape". Prosecutor Eva Finne says there appears to be insufficient evidence for allegation of rape. Prosecutors were trying to determine, among other things, if Assange had sex with the woman while she was asleep and without using a condom.

The police statement said Assange was previously wanted for "an extremely serious offence" in Sweden and the police presence around the embassy had "reflected the serious nature of that crime".

British police kept up round-the-clock guard outside the embassy until December 2015, when the operation was scaled back, in part because of the cost, which had exceeded 11 million pounds (over $17.5 million at the time).

Keyton reported from Stockholm.

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