Swedish prosecutors drop Julian Assange rape investigation

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Swedish prosecutors investigating rape accusations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange must decide on Friday if they will lift a Europe-wide arrest warrant against him in a seven-year-old case.

The Ecuadorian government is to step up efforts to allow Mr Assange to continue his asylum in its country after Sweden's Director of Public Prosecutions Marianne Ny said she had made a decision to "discontinue" her investigation.

Also, UK police said they would still arrest Assange if he came out of the Ecuadorian embassy because he had broken his conditions for bail by not surrendering himself to police. "It is reminded that a European arrest warrant has been issued against him in the context of the rape case investigation, which he has refused".

Ecuador granted Assange political asylum in 2012, but a constant police presence and the arrest order have prevented him from exiting the embassy in London ever since. If extradited to the US, Assange could be prosecuted for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic documents.

"While today is an important victory, the road is far from over", Assange said.

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May says any decision about Assange's arrest or otherwise is an "operational matter" for police. But British police said Friday he still faces arrest in the United Kingdom for failing to surrender to the court in 2012.

Assange had skipped bail in London to avoid being returned to Sweden, saying that American officials made up the rape case in an attempt to have him extradited to the United States and tried for espionage over the release of secret documents.

Ny told a news conference that the investigation could be reopened if Assange returns to Sweden before the statute of limitations lapses in 2020.

The Australian founder of the WikiLeaks whistleblowing site has always denied the rape allegations. "The MPS will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence". With the threat of extradition to Sweden dropped, the he could potentially opt to leave the embassy.

As recently as April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said arresting Assange was a "priority," the BBC reported, even though formal charges against Assange and WikiLeaks hadn't been filed.

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