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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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Citing Julian Assange’s evasion of legal proceedings

Swedish prosecutors drop seven year old rape investigation against him

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STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Citing Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s continued evasion of legal proceedings Swedish prosecutors on Friday dropped the rape investigation against him.
In a statement Sweden's public prosecution service said that all prospects of pursuing the seven-year old rape investigation had been exhausted and  Assange's evasion of legal proceedings had been a factor in the decision. 
Director of Sweden's public prosecution service, Marianne Ny confirmed they had “today decided to discontinue the investigation regarding suspected rape (lesser degree) by Julian Assange.”
Ny said in a note sent to the Stockholm District Court, that she had withdrawn the decision to arrest Assange, and discontinued the preliminary investigation.
She said Assange’s failure to show up in Sweden and likely future non-cooperation were important factors in her decision, noting “the risk Julian Assange would evade have legal proceedings against him” had been of “continued importance.”
The note also said, “[T]hat to continue with legal proceedings would require Julian Assange’s personal appearance in court, there is no longer any reason to continue with this investigation.”
On Friday morning, in a press conference in Stockholm, Ny pointed out that if Assange were to return to Sweden before the statute of limitations for the crime elapses in August 2020, then the preliminary investigation could be reopened.
While the WikiLeaks founder will no longer face sex crime allegations in Sweden, the London's Metropolitan Police said Assange "remains wanted for a much less serious offence."
In a statement released on Friday, British police said that they remain obliged to execute a warrant for Assange issued by Westminster Magistrates' Court after he failed to surrender to the court in 2012.
The case against Assange, who remains inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he has lived for nearly five years, began in 2010.
Soon after the proceedings began, WikiLeaks published the Afghan War Logs leaked by Chelsea Manning. 
Two WikiLeaks supporters had alleged that Assange had failed to use a condom during sex without their consent, with one of them alleging that he had penetrated her as she slept.
Assange was subsequently arrested and given bail by Sweden.
Swedish prosecutors pursued allegations of rape and sexual assault, however, in 2015, the sexual assault charges were dropped due to statute of limitation rules.
He however, refused to return to the country for questioning and possible charging.
He lost a series of legal appeals against extradition up to the U.K. supreme court and then in 2012, he fled to the Ecuadorian embassy and claimed asylum. 
Last year, when he was finally questioned in the Ecuadorian embassy on a single charge.
Assange has claimed he sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy to avoid possible extradition to the U.S. in connection with WikiLeaks’ activities.
Per E Samuelsson, his lawyer in Sweden, told Swedish Radio, "This is a total victory for Julian Assange. He is now free to leave the embassy when he wants. We have won the Assange case. He is of course happy and relieved. He has been critical that it has lasted that long.”
Further, last month, U.S. President Donald Trump said he would support any decision by the Justice Department to charge Assange.
WikiLeaks meanwhile tweeted after Swedish prosecutors announced their decision, “U.K. refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received a U.S. extradition warrant for Julian Assange. Focus now moves to U.K."

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