Sweden drops Julian Assange rape investigation
19 November 2019, 14:58 | Updated: 20 November 2019, 09:55
Swedish prosecutors have announced that rape allegations against Julian Assange have been "discounted".
The decision to drop the allegations, which Mr Assange has always denied, has been welcomed by Wikileaks.
Mr Assange is currently in Belmarsh Prison in London awaiting extradition demands from the United States.
He was removed from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in April after being granted asylum there for four years.
Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, said, "Sweden has dropped its preliminary investigation into Mr Assange for the third time, after reopening it without any new evidence or information.
"Let us now focus on the threat Mr Assange has been warning about for years: the belligerent prosecution of the United States and the threat it poses to the First Amendment."
Sweden's deputy director of public prosecution, Eva-Marie Persson, said they had made the decision because the evidence has "weakened considerably" due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question.
"I would like to emphasise that the injured party has submitted a credible and reliable version of events. Her statements have been coherent, extensive and detailed; however, my overall assessment is that the evidential situation has been weakened to such an extent that that there is no longer any reason to continue the investigation," she said.
A statement issued by the Swedish prosecuting authorities said: "The preliminary investigation concerning allegations against Julian Assange was resumed on 13 May 2019 after Assange left the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
"The investigation relates to a suspected rape committed in August 2010. A number of investigative measures have been conducted since May, largely in the form of witness interviews.
"The preliminary investigation has now been discontinued, the motive for which is that the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question."
Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief: “Let us now focus on the threat Mr Assange has been warning about for years: the belligerent prosecution of the United States and the threat it poses to the First Amendment.⁰"— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) November 19, 2019
A spokesman for Mr Assange's legal team said: "From the outset of Sweden's preliminary investigation, Julian Assange's expressed concern has been that waiting in the wings was a United States extradition request that would be unstoppable from Sweden - and result in his spending the rest of his life in a US prison.
"Now that the US does seek Mr Assange's extradition to stand trial on unprecedented charges for journalistic work, it continues to be a matter of extreme regret that this reality has never been properly acknowledged and that the process in Sweden, with which Mr Assange has always expressed his willingness to engage and indeed did so, became so exceptionally politicised itself."