Sweden's top prosecutor on Friday dropped an investigation into a rape claim against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after nearly seven years, saying that's because there is no possibility of arresting him "in the foreseeable future".
"He is now free to leave the embassy when he wants", Per E Samuelsson, his lawyer in Sweden, told Swedish Radio.
The 45-year-old Australian has always denied the 2010 rape allegations, which he feared would see him extradited to the United States and tried over the leaking of hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. military and diplomatic documents.
Assange has been living at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012 under virtual house arrest to avoid being detained in connection with the Swedish rape investigation, which began seven years ago.
He had missed seeing his children growing up.
"That is not something that I can forgive".
Detention and extradition without charge had become a feature of the European Union, but it was not something expected from the rule of law in the United Kingdom, he said.
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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks on the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London on May 19, 2017.
"We have today won an important victory, but the road is far from over". "The war, the proper war, is just commencing".
He pledged that WikiLeaks will continue distributing material about the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency in the United States and will "accelerate" its publications.
Assange is now seen by many, including some who once had admired him the most, as an accomplice of the Russian propagandists and Donald Trump supporters who had sought to malign Clinton.
"My legal staff have contacted the United Kingdom authorities and we hope to engage in a dialogue about what is the best way forward".
The controversy surrounding founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden over rape accusations, has also polarised opinion on the group.
Marianne Ny, Sweden's director of public prosecutions, said the investigation could be reopened if Assange returns to Sweden before August 2020, when the statute of limitations on the allegations against him ends.
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Swedish officials issued a statement declaring: "The investigation against Julian Assange is discontinued".
Assange always denied the allegations, which he feared would lead to him being extradited to face trial over the leak of hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. military and diplomatic documents in 2010, that brought WikiLeaks to prominence. Another five years in Ecuador's London embassy?
Assange's Swedish lawyer last month filed a new motion demanding that the arrest warrant be lifted after US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in April that arresting Assange would be "a priority".
The allegations surfaced after two women accused Assange of sexual misconduct during a visit to Stockholm in 2010. In December, he spoke for the first time on the allegations, releasing a statement and documents as he claimed he was "entirely innocent".
In view of the fact that all prospects of pursuing the investigation are now exhausted, it appears that, in light of the views expressed by the Supreme Court in its assessment of the proportionality in this case, it could be argued that it becomes less proportionate to maintain the arrest of Julian Assange in his absence via a European Arrest Warrant.
During last year's USA presidential election campaign, WikiLeaks published emails from Hillary Clinton's staff and the Democratic National Committee which some believe helped to lose her the election to Trump.
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