Sweden drops Julian Assange rape investigation
A Swedish prosecutor has confirmed that the alleged rape investigation involving WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been discontinued, the Guardian has reported.
Assange, who is currently incarcerated in HM Prison Belmarsh in London, England, is still fighting extradition to the US, which accuses him of publishing secret documents to the public. However, Swedish authorities are now dropping their rape investigation due to evidence being "weakened considerably".
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Assange has repeatedly denied the allegation since it was made in 2010.
Per the BBC, The Swedish Prosecution Authority said in a statement:
"Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Eva-Marie Persson has today decided to discontinue the investigation regarding Julian Assange.
"The reason for this decision is that the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question."
Deputy chief prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson said at a news conference: "I want to inform about my decision to discontinue the preliminary investigation.
"I would like to emphasize 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 there is no longer any reason to continue the investigation."
The Independent reports that WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson has said in a statement:
"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."
Back in April, Assange was evicted from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he had been holed up since 2012. He was immediately arrested and was sentenced to a 50-week sentence for jumping bail in 2012.
Assange, 48, would have been released from Belmarsh Prison back on September 22, but was further detained due to the "substantial grounds" that he would abscond again.
Appearing by video-link, Mr Assange, who is an Australian citizen, was informed by District Judge Vanessa Baraitser:
"You have been produced today because your sentence of imprisonment is about to come to an end.
"When that happens your remand status changes from a serving prisoner to a person facing extradition.
"Therefore I have given your lawyer an opportunity to make an application for bail on your behalf and she has declined to do so, perhaps not surprisingly in light of your history of absconding in these proceedings.
"In my view, I have substantial ground for believing if I release you, you will abscond again.”