Not yet freedom for Assange, faces arrest in Britain


Swedish prosecutors said Friday they were repealing an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as they were dropping their investigation into a rape allegation.

Assange has been denying the rape allegations and though the latest decision might bring some relief but he is still under pressure as if he leaves the embassy he could still be detained by United Kingdom police and face extradition to the US. He has been there ever since, fearing that if he was in custody he might ultimately be extradited to the United States for his role at the helm of WikiLeaks, which has enraged governments around the world by publishing tens of thousands of leaked classified USA documents.

In a court document seen by Reuters, Ny said there were no further avenues to pursue to take the investigation forward.

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.

British police said despite Sweden's decision to drop the rape investigation, Assange still faces arrest if he leaves Ecuador's embassy in London.

"The UK has refused to confirm or deny whether it has already received a U.S. extradition warrant for Julian Assange".

"Chief Prosecutor Marianne Ny has today made a decision to shut down the preliminary investigation regarding suspected rape involving Julian Assange", the Swedish prosecutors' office said in a statement.

However, reporters have now gathered outside the Knightsbridge embassy in the expectation he could finally leave after four years and 334 days.

"Westminster Magistrates' Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Julian Assange following him failing to surrender to the court on the 29 June 2012", the police said.

The news service reports he also called on the allow Assange safe passage back to Ecuador. "Focus now moves to United Kingdom", the group tweeted.

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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".

Mr. Assange says that he has been denied due process during his time at the embassy, and endured "cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment".

Mr Assange previously said he would go to the United States if Wikileaks' source Chelsea Manning was granted clemency. The South American country has granted him asylum, but it is not clear how Assange would travel there without the permission of British authorities.

British officials said they do not comment on individual extradition cases.

"Now that all appeals are exhausted I expect that the United Kingdom and Sweden will comply with their worldwide obligations and set me free", Mr Assange said following the ruling.

However if Assange were to return to Sweden before the statute of limitations for the suspected offenses expires in August 2020, the investigation could be reopened, she said.

WikiLeaks played a central role in the 2016 presidential race when it published emails stolen through hacking the Democratic National Committee and later from John Podesta, chairman of Hillary Clinton's campaign.

"If he, at a later date, makes himself available, I will be able to decide to resume the investigation immediately", she said. The rape allegation, the more serious claim, remained under investigation. She was freed Wednesday, having had her sentence commuted by former President Barack Obama before he left office.

A lawyer for the woman who alleged she was raped by Assange said "it's a scandal that a suspected rapist can avoid the judicial system and thus avoid a trial in court".

Police kept up round-the-clock guard outside the embassy until past year, when the operation was scaled back.