Sweden drops rape charge against Julian Assange

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Swedish officials have reportedly decided to drop a rape charge against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has lived in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012 in an effort to avoid extradition. 

Marianne Ny, Sweden’s director of public prosecutions, announced the end of the investigation in a brief post on her department’s website. A second allegation of sexual assault was dropped in Sweden in 2015.

Shortly after the announcement Friday morning, Assange posted a smiling photo to his Twitter account.

Assange has long denied the allegations, and he still faces possible extradition to the U.S. 

{mosads}After Friday’s news, WikiLeaks tweeted that the “focus now moves to the UK,” which has “refused to confirm or deny whether it has already received a US extradition warrant for Julian Assange.”

And British police said, should Assange leave the Ecuadorian Embassy, he would still face arrest for the lesser charge of failing to surrender to authorities.

In a press conference, Ny said Assange’s diplomatic isolation makes continuing the case impossible. 

“We are not making any pronouncement about guilt,” she said, according to the BBC

Ny added: “It is my assessment that the transfer cannot be made in a reasonable timeframe.”

WikiLeaks played a major role in last year’s U.S. presidential election, publishing troves of hacked emails from Hillary Clinton campaign officials and other Democratic groups. Many point to Russia as the source of the hacks amid its campaign to influence the election.

The Trump administration has signaled it is preparing charges against Assange, which prompted the group last month to remind the president of the time he proclaimed “I love WikiLeaks” on the campaign trail. 

The news about Assange comes the same week as the release of Chelsea Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst who gave WikiLeaks thousands of government files on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

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