Swedish prosecutor drops rape probe against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange

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Swedish prosecutors on Friday said they had dropped rape charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, closing a almost seven-year investigation.

Back in 2012, the WikiLeaks founder took refuge in Ecuador's embassy in London to possibly escape extradition to Sweden regarding questions he would have to answer about alleged sex-crime charges from two women.

The development could mean that Assange is free to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been hiding for nearly five years to avoid extradition.

"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", London police said in a statement. He has always denied wrongdoing.

In January, Assange said he stood by an offer to go to the United States providing his rights were upheld and if former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who was responsible for a 2010 leak of classified materials to Assange's anti-secrecy group, was freed.

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Friday was the deadline for prosecutors to renew or lift the warrant for Assange's arrest.

Manning was released on Wednesday after spending seven years in a USA military prison for passing the documents to WikiLeaks.

In documents filed to the Stockholm District Court, Prosecutor Ny said legal obstacles had prevented the case from moving forward. Foreign Minister Guillaume Long said Assange was welcome to stay in the embassy if this was not granted.

The UK government declined to comment Friday on whether the US has asked for Assange's extradition, but last month US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Assange's arrest was a "priority". We have won the Assange case.

"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 offence", it wrote in a statement.

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