Swedish authorities are ending their investigation into an allegation of rape against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the country’s deputy chief prosecutor has announced.
Swedish prosecutors have said that though the accusations are “credible,” there is not enough evidence to indict the Wikileaks founder. Assange’s main concern now is fighting extradition to the United States.
Deputy director of public prosecution Eva-Marie Persson made the announcement at a news conference in Stockholm on Tuesday.
Although officials said they believed the women’s claims to be “credible,” they have now said that there does not appear to be enough evidence for an indictment. This follows a June decision by a Swedish court that Assange should not be detained.
The investigation into Assange was reopened in May following his dramatic removal from Ecuador’s embassy in central London the previous month. Swedish authorities had previously suspended the probe in 2017.
The Australian whistleblower originally faced four sex-related charges in Sweden after an August 2010 visit to the country.
The claims of misconduct triggered a years-long extradition battle, which Assange eventually lost in the UK’s Supreme Court in 2012.
Shortly after that, Assange entered Ecuador’s embassy, and remained there for almost seven years. In August 2015, the statute of limitations on three of the four allegations lapsed.
Assange is also currently fighting extradition to the United States, where he faces charges under the Espionage Act.
Wikileaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson wrote on Twitter that public conversation should now focus on the “the belligerent prosecution of the United States and the threat it poses” to free speech.
Assange had consistently denied the allegations, claiming it was a ploy by Washington to get him extradited to the United States.
To evade an international arrest warrant, Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012. In April 2019, however, Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno said that the 48-year-old Australian had violated the terms of his asylum and he was expelled from the embassy. He was then promptly arrested by British authorities.
Assange is currently serving a 50-week jail sentence in the UK for skipping bail. He is still fighting extradition to the US after he has served this sentence, where he is wanted for violating the Espionage Act in connection with Wikileaks’ publishing of classified documents.
His extradition hearing is set for February 2020.
The United Nations special rapporteur on torture and ill treatment, Nils Melzer, said the examination in early May revealed that Mr. Assange’s “capacity to focus and coordinate have been clearly affected” by his imprisonment.
“He was extremely jumpy and stressed,” Mr. Melzer said in an interview. “It’s difficult to have a structured conversation with him. There’s so much going on in his mind it’s difficult to have a dialogue with him.”
Furthermore, he said in a statement, Mr. Assange should not be extradited the United States, where he faces charges of conspiracy to hack into a Pentagon computer. He said that the cumulative effects of Mr. Mr. Assange’s punishment can only be described as