Sweden Drops The Julian Assange Rape Investigation, But He Still Faces Arrest In The U.K.

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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange woke up to some good news today, sort of. Sweden announced that it’s dropping its rape investigation against him, and the reasons for doing so are procedural. Prosecutor Marianne Ny told the press that she simply couldn’t serve him notice for alleged sexual assault while he’s been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London (for the past five years). Assange has resisted going to Sweden due to fear of a U.S. extradition bid, which could present wealth of charges for Wikileaks-related shenanigans, but he won’t be leaving the embassy yet. He does, however, have plans.

What happens now? Well, Assange is still subject to an existing British warrant for refusing to go to court, and Prime Minister Theresa May says she will leave the matter up to police, who say they will arrest him if he steps foot outside the embassy. In addition, the U.K. won’t confirm or deny to Wikileaks whether or not the U.S. has sent over an extradition warrant.

So, Sweden — whose officials questioned Assange in 2016 at the Ecuadorian embassy — has simply decided to stop investing resources in Assange, although Ny believes there’s still probable cause in the rape case. The statute of limitations will not run until 2020, so Assange (who is Australian) won’t be stepping foot in that country anytime soon. However, he does hope to eventually leave the embassy … if he can swing it, via The Telegraph

Juan Branco, a lawyer representing Mr Assange, said he would now seek political asylum in France, though did not elaborate on how the campaigner planned to get there without being arrested.

Er, good luck with that? In April, the U.S. reportedly began preparing to seek charges and arrest Assange, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions subsequently declared that he considered it a “priority” to do so. Ecuador was committed to not turning Assange over to foreign authorities, but will France feel the same way?

The U.K. stopped conducting surveillance on Assange on a round-the-clock basis in October 2015 (again, a matter of resources), but London police are still stationed outside the embassy. So, he can’t leave without being arrested, but one thing is certain — Assange’s apparent love interest, Pamela Anderson, will probably soon pay him a “celebratory” visit. And then she’ll write another bizarre poem about how “imprisoned” he is.

(Via New York Times & BBC)

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