May 19, 2017, 2:06 PM ET

Sweden drops rape investigation into WikiLeaks head Julian Assange

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Sweden has dropped a rape investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the Swedish prosecutor's office announced on Friday.

"The investigation against Julian Assange is discontinued," according to a statement issued by Sweden's director of public prosecution, Marianne Ny.

Chief prosecutor Ingrid Isgren and Ny explained their decision to end the preliminary investigation and lift the arrest warrant at a press conference Friday, saying there's no possibility of arresting Assange in the foreseeable future. However, the prosecutors said the case "could be reopened if Assange returns to Sweden before the statute of limitations ends in 2020."

PHOTO: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks to reporters on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, May 19, 2017.Facundo Arrizabalaga/ EPA
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks to reporters on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, May 19, 2017.

Assange's Swedish lawyer, Per Samuelson, called the prosecutor's decision a "total victory" for his client.

Assange, 45, has been living in the Embassy of Ecuador in London since 2012 to avoid extradition over allegations of sexual misconduct made by two Swedish women. One of the allegations was dropped in 2015 after the time limit for prosecution had passed, but Swedish prosecutors continued probing an accusation of rape from one of the women.

Despite the Swedish prosecutor's decision, U.K. authorities said Assange still faces arrest should he depart the Ecuadorian embassy.

In a statement issued after the decision, Metropolitan Police Service in London said, "Now that the situation has changed and the Swedish authorities have discontinued their investigation into that matter, Mr. Assange remains wanted for a much less serious offense” and the police force is still “obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the embassy.”

Assange made a rare public appearance from a balcony at the Ecuadorian embassy Friday night, telling reporters that the prosecutor's decision was an important victory for him but that U.K. authorities would arrest him if he left the sanctuary "regardless." He called U.K. authorities' claim to arrest him "untenable" and said talks between his attorneys and authorities are ongoing.

The WikiLeaks founder also described his stay at the embassy as "detention without charge" and said it seems unlikely he will leave anytime soon.

Shortly after the prosecutor’s announcement, Assange posted an old photo of himself on his personal Twitter account on Friday. A few hours later, he tweeted a brief comment, "Detained for 7 years without charge by while my children grew up and my name was slandered. I do not forgive or forget."

ABC News' Joseph Simonetti, Dimitrije Stejic and Mike Trew contributed to this report.

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  • BG Davis

    "Detained" for 7 years? No, Julian, you could have (and still can) walked out the door any time, and faced up to the consequences of your actions - just as true social leaders from Gandhi and Mandela to MLK have done.

  • adamrussell

    Just 2 days after Manning released from prison, Sweden drops case against Assange.

    Despite their claims, I think Sweden thought "If the US isnt even going to keep their guy in prison then why should we do their dirty work to get back at Assange?"

  • sunnyroberto

    Whistleblowers are only whistleblowers when they advance the interests of the World Order and the elite.
    Assange was a threat, so he must perish.

  • Trumpet

    They're probably using the Comey tactic, trlling Assange that they are closing the investigation, then when he gets out of the embassy, they'll reopen it because they found more unsubstantiated evidence

  • disqus_CARwRiuTsK

    does putin have an global information campaign to try to influence the world? yes. but does that make everyone who doesnt agree with the liberal media a russian operative? i never believed it in the past, but now understand the media is a really a tool of the globalist agenda. globalism has benefits and drawbacks. but we need to embrace discussions on the path we choose, not be silenced by a media that attacks anyone who disagrees or questions the power base.

  • Jay Hovious

    What he does not know is that Swedish government has placed him on a double, secured probation.

  • Pingy

    He doesn't forgive or forget?? Sounds like a veiled threat to his accusers if you ask me!

  • Damiana

    So, with these charges dropped, he should be able to leave his (self-imposed) exile and resume his previous life.

  • DFW-Texas Retired

    You did this to yourself, Assange. If you had faced the charges, you would have been exonerated or served your time by now, but you chose to hole up in the darkness like the rat you are. Equador should have extradited you seven years ago and made the world a better place.

  • dancer92136

    He thinks he is so cool, but he is really kind of gross.

  • SunnySideUp

    Now he can get down to work and dig up dirt on that moron in chief.

  • Yvonne

    Something tells me the minute that guy steps out of the Embassy he's toast-even if cleared of all charges and free to leave. He knows it too, or else he wouldn't be so afraid to walk around outside of it.

  • HarryNYC

    Assange is going to spend the rest of his life looking over his shoulder. I wonder who is going to pay for his bodyguards. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

  • Trumpisa Liar

    Assange helps Trump and Putin leak Clinton emails to win the election, and voila!

  • RobertJohns

    Maybe the Swedes are just satisfied that Assange has served 5 years of self-selected house arrest.

  • D Fresh

    Free room and board and P Anderson will have to do for now. Could be doing worse.

  • RobertJohns

    Having the prosecution given up because there's little or no hope of ever arresting him within the statute of limitations is not "total victory". "Total victory" would be facing a trial and being acquitted.

  • JDC

    Even though Assange is breaking the law, he and Snowden are important parts of the system now. The intelligence community has long ago proven itself incapable of determining ethics. They're all about coulda, not shoulda. What W started with the Patriot act grew to a massive snowball of privacy violations and what should have been illegal actions. While I don't always agree with what he publishes, to do away with whistleblowers would be to allow the government to go about mass surveillance again.

  • BassPlyr73 Again

    I wonder if he has to pay rent at the embassy, or if it's just a free ride?

  • Cleo

    Assange is self-serving at best, and a self-serving criminal at worst.
    He is not the annointed Saint of the People some would have you believe.

  • SeeDo

    About time. Assange is a patriot to to the human race.

  • adamrussell

    2 days after Manning is released from prison Sweden drops its case against Assange.

    Despite what they claim I think the real reason is that they think "If the US wont hold Manning accountable then why should we do their dirty work against Assange"?