Sweden drops rape charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

Julian Assange
Julian Assange

Swedish prosecutors announced on Tuesday they had discontinued rape investigation against WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.

Eva-Marie Persson, a top Swedish prosecutor, said the charges were dropped after a review showed the evidence against Mr Assange had weakened since 2010 when the allegations were first levelled.

Although the complainant’s evidence was deemed credible and reliable, crucial facts of the matter had faded and stood little chance of being sustained in court, Ms Persson said at a televised press briefing on Tuesday.

“The assessment that the evidence is not strong enough to form the basis for filing an indictment,” Ms Persson said at the briefing in Stockholm. The prosecutor said the decision could still be appealed.

Mr Assange, 48, has been facing claims he raped a woman during a WikiLeaks’ event in Stockholm in August 2010. Mr Assange strongly denied the allegations, saying they had consensual sex and the charges were part of a United States plot to punish him for his role in the WikiLeaks cables.

Shortly after the allegations, Mr Assange, who had lived in Sweden, fled to London, where he ultimately took up residency in the Ecuadorian Embassy. He spent seven years at the embassy before he was evicted in April and taken into British custody.

In June, the British government approved Mr Assange’s extradition to the United States, where he could face up to five years in jail if convicted for publishing what was deemed the biggest leak of classified documents in history.

But Mr Assange, an Australian, is serving a 12-month sentence in the UK for jumping bail in 2012 to hide in the Ecuadorian embassy.

Mr Assange’s WikiLeaks trove of American government cables sent shockwaves across the world when it began publishing in several countries in 2010. In Nigeria, the cables, published by defunct Next Newspapers, revealed how several Nigerian politicians were passing information to Western diplomats, especially the United States.

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