Sweden drops Assange rape investigation

Wednesday, 20 Nov, 2019

Sweden's deputy director of public prosecutions, Eva-Marie Persson, says she has made a decision to end her office's investigation of rape allegations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Per E. Samuelson, Assange's Swedish lawyer, told news agency TT he was critical of the prosecution's handling of the case since the beginning, claiming they had been unable to properly handle a case involving someone so famous.

Two months earlier, Assange was evicted from the Ecuador Embassy in London where he had been holed up for almost seven years.

Deputy Chief Prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson said that the complainant's evidence was deemed credible and reliable, but that after almost a decade, witnesses' memories had faded.

Still, Persson said her statements "have been coherent, extensive and detailed".

Assange, a 48-year-old Australian, has repeatedly denied the sex crime allegations, calling them part of a plot to discredit him and secure his eventual transfer to the United States.

Assange is now serving a jail term of 50 weeks in the UK's Belmarsh prison for skipping bail to avoid being sent to Sweden over sexual assault allegations.

"But altogether, my assessment is that the evidence has weakened in such a way that there is no longer reason to continue the investigation". However, the prosecutor said the decision to drop the investigation could be appealed.

The single charge, conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, comes from what US prosecutors said was Assange's attempt to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on a classified government computer.

The US actress was due to visit Assange on Tuesday, before holding a press conference outside Belmarsh Prison in south-east London.

The investigation against the WikiLeaks founder was initiated after a Swedish woman, who met Assange in Stockholm in August 2010, accused him of getting intimate with her while she was sleeping.

Since then, she said the prosecutors had interviewed a total of seven witnesses, five that were spoken to during the original investigation and two other individuals.

Assange is now being held in a British prison as his lawyers fight US attempts to extradite him.

A Swedish court ruled in June that Assange would not be extradited from Britain, but at the time said the investigation would continue.

Assange had reportedly lived part-time in Sweden.

The U.S.is seeking Assange's extradition. After Assange's removal from the embassy in spring 2019, the case was reopened at the request of the counsel for the injured party in Sweden.

The United States has requested that he be extradited there, where he is allegedly suspected of violating the country's laws on espionage.

WikiLeaks later angered the United States by publishing caches of leaked military documents and diplomatic cables.