The Latest: Assange seeks contact with US, UK officials
LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Swedish prosecutor ending investigation of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange (all times local):
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says his legal team will contact U.K. officials to seek a way forward in resolving in resolving his status.
Although Sweden has dropped its investigation of rape allegations against Assange, British police say they still intend to arrest him on a charge of jumping bail if he leaves the Ecuadorean Embassy.
He also says he would be “happy” to discuss the case with the U.S. Department of Justice despite U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying that arresting Assange is a priority. President Donald Trump has said it is “OK” with him if Sessions does that.
Assange contends the United States should recognize his First Amendment rights as a journalist.
Julian Assange says Sweden’s decision to drop a rape inveatigation against him is “an important victory for me and for the U.N. human rights system.”
Speaking from the balcony of Ecuador’s London embassy, the WikiLeaks founder says his seven-year legal ordeal — which he calls unjust detention — “is not something that I can forgive.”
He says says his battle is not over, and “the proper war is just commencing.” Assange believes the United States wants him extradited and arrested in connection with WikiLeaks’ publication of classified U.S. documents.
Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Guillaume Long celebrated the decision but expressed outrage over the lengthy delays by the Swedish prosecutors in resolving the case.
He said recent comments by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Donald Trump in favor of arresting the Australian reaffirm Ecuador’s belief that the rape charges against him were politically motivated and that Assange still faces a serious risk of prosecution.
At a press conference in Quito, Long called on Britain allow Assange safe passage so he could take up his asylum in Ecuador. Long added: “This has gone on long enough. No more delays.”
Julian Assange’s Swedish lawyer Per E. Samuelson says it is a “day of victory” for the WikiLeaks founder after Sweden’s top prosecutor dropped an investigation into a rape claim against him.
Samuelson tells The Associated Press that “this was consensual sex between two adults and nothing else,” adding Assange was now “a free man.”
Samuelson says he spoke by telephone with Assange, who told him: “Yes, Per, it feels much better today. Finally we got there.”
Samuelson said Sweden’s judicial system “spoiled and wasted five, six years of his life ... but he is happy today.”
A lawyer for the woman who alleges she was raped by Julian Assange says “it is a scandal that a suspected rapist can avoid the judicial system and thus avoid a trial in court.” Elisabeth Massi Fritz says her client is shocked but adds that “she can’t change her view that Assange has exposed her to a rape.”
Julian Assange’s lawyer is asking French president Emmanuel Macron to intervene in support of the WikiLeaks founder. Juan Branco told The Associated Press in Paris that he wants Macron to help Assange leave the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.
Branco says: “We need a political intervention to make this situation end. He is the only political prisoner in Western Europe.”
Sweden’s top prosecutor says “costs were not a reason for putting down the investigation” of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Marianne Ny told a news conference: “When we investigate serious crimes, we do not consider the costs.”
In a written statement, officials said: “According to Swedish legislation, a criminal investigation is to be conducted as quickly as possible. At the point when a prosecutor has exhausted the possibilities to continue the investigation, the prosecutor is obliged to discontinue the investigation.
“At this point, all possibilities to conduct the investigation are exhausted.”
Sweden’s top prosecutor says the investigation of alleged sexual offenses could reopened if Julian Assange returns to Sweden before the statute of limitations lapses in 2020.
The prosecutor, Marianne Ny, told a news conference in Stockholm that she could make no judgment on Assange’s guilt or innocence. She says: “We don’t make any statement of guilty or not.”
Sweden’s top prosecutor, Marianne Ny, says she has withdrawn a European arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after concluding that it won’t be possible to bring him to Sweden.
Ny told a news conference in Stockholm: “He has tried to dodge all attempts to avoid Swedish and British legal authorities. My assessment is the transfer cannot be carried out in a foreseeable future.”
Ny says she has withdrawn a European arrest warrant. However, British police say Assange still faces arrest for jumping bail if he leaves the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
Despite Sweden’s decision to drop a rape investigation, British police say that Julian Assange still faces arrest if he leaves Ecuador’s London embassy.
The Metropolitan Police force says that there is a British warrant for Assange’s arrest after he jumped bail in 2012, and it “is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the embassy.”
But it adds that Assange is now wanted for a “much less serious offense” than the original sex crimes claims, and police “will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offense.”
Police kept up round-the-clock guard outside the embassy until last year, when the operation was scaled back.
WikiLeaks says the ball is now in Britain’s court after Sweden’s decision to drop its rape investigation of Julian Assange.
Assange is wanted by British police for extradition to Sweden. But he also believes the United States wants to extradite him to face charges related to WikiLeaks’ publication of classified American documents.
After the Swedish announcement. WikiLeaks tweeted: “UK refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received a US extradition warrant for Julian Assange. Focus now moves to UK.”
British police said before the announcement that Assange is still wanted in Britain for jumping bail. It is not clear if that may change now that the investigation has been dropped.
Sweden’s top prosecutor says she is dropping an investigation into a rape claim against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after almost seven years.
The Swedish Prosecution Authority said in a statement Friday that Marianne Ny “has decided to discontinue the investigation.”
Assange took refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in London in 2012 to escape extradition to Sweden to answer questions about sex-crime allegations from two women. He has been there ever since, fearing that if he is arrested he might ultimately be extradited to the United States.
Friday’s announcement means Assange is no longer under any investigation in Sweden. British police said before the announcement that Assange is still wanted in Britain for jumping bail. It is not clear if that may change now that the investigation has been dropped.
AP Writer Gonzalo Solano contributed from Quito, Ecuador