Swedish prosecutor said on Tuesday that they have dropped their investigation into jailed Wikileaks founder Julian Assange over a 2010 rape allegation, even though they found the plaintiff’s claim “credible”.
The decision likely ends the threat of extradition to Sweden for the whistleblower, who is wanted by the US on espionage charges and is currently being held at a British high-security prison.
Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison in May for breaching bail conditions when he took up residence in Ecuador’s London embassy, where he lived for seven years in order to avoid being sent to Sweden.
The extradition order centred on the rape allegation as well a separate sex assault claim — but the statute of limitations expired for the second allegation in 2015.
Earlier in the month, an independent UN rights expert Nils Melzer had warned that the conditions WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was being held in are putting his life “at-risk”.
In April this year, UK police arrested Assange after the South American nation revoked the political asylum that had protected him in the embassy, and he was brought before a British court — the first step in an extradition battle that he has vowed to fight.
Assange took refuge in the embassy in 2012 after he was released on bail in Britain while facing extradition to Sweden on sexual assault allegations that have since been dropped. He refused to leave the embassy, fearing arrest and extradition to the US for publishing classified military and diplomatic cables through WikiLeaks.
He has been facing the extradition request by the US over charges he violated the US Espionage Act by publishing a huge cache of military and diplomatic files in 2010.
Prosecutors had struggled for years to interrogate Assange in person, but an interview was carried out with the help of an Ecuadorian prosecutor at the embassy in 2016.
Persson said she didn’t think another interview with Assange would add to the investigation in a meaningful way.
But she stressed that “the plaintiff has given a credible and reliable account.”