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Text of Swedish prosecutor's decision to drop Assange probe

19 May 2017

Sweden's top prosecutor said Friday she's dropping an investigation into a rape claim against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after nearly seven years because there's no possibility of arresting him "in the foreseeable future".

In explaining why Sweden was dropping the investigation, Ny said during a televised news conference in Stockholm that "all possibilities to advance the investigation have now been exhausted" and that the legal proceedings could only continue if Assange were present in Sweden.

"My assessment is the transfer can not be carried out in a foreseeable future", Ny told a news conference in Stockholm, adding that Assange had avoided all attempts by British and Swedish authorities to arrest him.

Sweden asked Britain to extradite Assange for questioning, and in June 2012 he sought refuge in Ecuador's London embassy to avoid arrest.

The Australian, who has lived inside the embassy for nearly five years, said the "road is far from over", adding it was "extremely regretful" he was still being threatened with arrest if he leaves the embassy.

U.S. prosecutors believe they have found a way to charge him for his involvement in the leaking of secret documents and diplomatic cables in 2010.

Ecuador under leftist President Rafael Correa granted Assange asylum in its London embassy in 2012. He described Mr. Assange as a free man, although he conceded that "the United States is chasing him".

Foreign Minister Guillaume Long said that the United Kingdom should now grant Mr Assange safe passage, as the European arrest warrant against him "no longer holds".

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It continued, "Whilst Mr Assange was wanted on a European arrest warrant (EAW) for an extremely serious offence, the MPS response reflected the serious nature of that crime".

Police kept up round-the-clock guard outside the embassy until past year, when the operation was scaled back.

Assange has said the United Kingdom is refusing to confirm or deny whether America has made an extradition request - and he insisted he is happy to engage with the US Justice Department.

A lawyer on Assange's legal team, Per Samuelsson, told Swedish radio the decision was "a total victory", saying that Assange was "of course happy and relieved".

British officials said they do not comment on individual extradition cases.

He has been living at the Ecuadoran embassy in London since 2012, and the British police have said they will arrest Assange as soon as he walks out of the embassy because he has broken his conditions for bail - a relatively minor offence under British law - by failing to surrender on June 29, 2012 for extradition to Sweden.

"The UK must now grant safe passage to Mr Julian Assange", minister Guillaume Long wrote on Twitter.

Shortly afterward, he lodged his request for asylum in Ecuador and fled to the country's embassy in London.

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At a press briefing on Friday, Sweden's top prosecutor Marianne Ny said that by remaining in the embassy in London Mr Assange had evaded the exercise of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) that would have seen him extradited to Sweden. Assange denied any complicity in sex-related crimes and insisted that all sexual contacts had taken place through mutual consent alone and that police had motivated the vindictive women to file a complaint against him.

Nye, meanwhile, said the statute of limitations expires in 2020 over the rape allegations. They said this was a much less serious offence than rape, but he could still face up to a year in jail if convicted.

She accused him of having sex with her as she slept without using a condom despite repeatedly having denied him unprotected sex.

Assange has said that all the sex was consensual. She said prosecutors had been unable to make a full assessment of the case and were not making a finding on whether Assange was guilty of the allegations.

Ny told reporters that the WikiLeaks founder had "tried to dodge all attempts at arrest" by British and Swedish authorities.

The U.S. Justice Department investigation of Assange and WikiLeaks dates back to at least 2010, when the site posted thousands of files stolen by the former U.S. Army intelligence analyst.

A lawyer for the woman who alleged she was raped by Assange said "it's a scandal that a suspected rapist can avoid the judicial system and thus avoid a trial in court".

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