Prosecutors in Sweden have dropped their investigation into Julian Assange over the rapes he allegedly committed. This brings an end to a legal standoff which lasted seven years and could have seen him extradited from England to Sweden.
One of the best extradition lawyers, who was in charge of prosecuting Assange, held that the decision to drop the investigation was because they had exhausted all possibilities of conducting the investigation. She went on to say, that to continue with their investigations they would need to notify Assange of the criminal suspicions against him and felt they were not able to rely on the Ecuadorian embassy to do this. She stated that for now the investigation is suspended, if and when, Assange makes himself available to Swedish authorities, then they can consider resuming the investigation.
Assange has sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012. He has remained at the embassy since he lost his court battle in 2012. The court had ruled that he was to return to Sweden to face the rape allegations against him.
In 2015 the Swedish authorities dropped a similar case against Assange. Allegedly, he raped a Swedish woman, again by not using a condom when he said he would. In that case, however, charges were dropped because the Statute of limitations ran out before he could be brought before a Swedish court.
Assange responded to the news on Twitter with an image of himself smiling and later the same day tweeting “Detained for 7 years without charge while my children grew up and my name was slandered. I do not forgive or forget.”
A criminal defence lawyer working on behalf of the alleged rape victim has called the decision a scandal. She has stated that it is unjust that an [alleged] rapist can escape justice and the courts. She went on to say that her client is upset and shocked and that the decision to stop investigating the case does not change the mindset of the victim. The alleged victim still believes she was raped.
This now means that the threat of Assange being extradited to Sweden has been removed. Assange, now forty-five, is free to leave the embassy without risk of extradition to Sweden. However, Assange still risks extradition to the United States if he opts to leave the safety of the Ecuadorian embassy.
Assange has some of the best extradition lawyers working on his case currently and they have advised Assange to not leave the safety of the embassy until he receives assurances from the authorities of the United States that he will not face extradition for espionage. Assange potentially faces espionage charges from the United States due to several publishing’s made on WikiLeaks. It was due to these allegations against Assange that Ecuador granted him asylum to stay in the embassy.
Assange’s worries are not over purely because the best extradition lawyer in Sweden has suspended the case. If Assange leaves the embassy he faces arrest by the London Metropolitan police. Assange breached bail conditions when a warrant was issued to attend a magistrate’s court after he entered the embassy. A statement from the Metropolitan police stated that they are obliged to execute the warrant if, and when, Assange leaves the embassy.
The Metropolitan Police held that Assange was wanted on a European Arrest warrant for an offence which was extremely serious. They held their response to that issue, issuing an arrest warrant was reflective of the level of the crime they were accused of. Although Sweden has now withdrawn their investigation and thus the European arrest warrant has been withdrawn, the Metropolitan Police still want him on a lesser offence. Not adhering to the arrest warrant. They held that the level of response will be proportionate to that offence.
Assange’s has one of the best extradition lawyers on his case, the lawyer held that the decision of the Swedish authorities represented a complete victory for Assange and his defence team.
Assange’s extradition lawyer held that the news amounted to one of the happiest moments of his legal career. He held that the interrogation of Assange in November of 2016 showed he could give a good account of the night of the alleged rape and that his account demonstrated Assange had acted in a manner that resulted in sex between to consenting adults.
Claes Borgström, the original extradition lawyer for this he alleged victims, held that the decision to withdraw the investigation is regretful. He stated that he understands the reasons behind Sweden’s decision to stop investigating but he regrets the fact Assange was not brought before a court in Sweden to address the allegations against him. He went on to say that Assange was able to address the allegations before a court at any time but he chooses to escape and live in the Ecuadorian embassy out of reach of the Swedish courts for a number of years.
Assange may still face extradition to the United States, however, they have yet to officially ask for Assange to be extradited. Furthermore, Assange may still face charges for not appearing at court after an arrest warrant was issued.
Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, has recently stated that any decision with regards to Assange If he were to leave the Ecuadorian embassy, would be left to the police. Therefore, if Assange leaves the embassy he still risks arrest for the police for not appearing at court at the requested time. If he leaves he then may risk extradition if the United States request it.
Theresa May went on to say after asked about extradition of Assange to the United States, that every decision to extradite is made on a case by case basis and she was unable to give an answer of his extradition at this time.