Wikileaks Founder: Assange Defiant, Sweden Drops Rape Investigation

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has said he will not forgive and forget attempts to arrest him over rape allegations which led him to seek asylum in Ecuador's London embassy.

Hailing an "important victory", he said he was prepared for dialogue with the US and UK authorities.

Mr Assange, 45, is wanted in the US over the leaking of military and diplomatic documents. Sweden said on Friday it had decided to drop its rape investigation.

Meanwhile Ecuador urged the UK to allow him safe passage out of the country. The Wikileaks founder has chosen to remain in the embassy as he fears extradition to Sweden would lead to extradition to the US.
Julian Assange

"Today is an important victory for me and the UN human rights system, but by no means erases seven years of detention without charge... while my children grew up. That is not something I can forgive or forget," he told journalists from a balcony at the embassy.

"My legal staff have contacted the UK authorities and we hope to engage in a dialogue about what will be the best way forward," he added, saying he was also "happy to engage" with the US.

Police in London have said they would still be obliged to arrest Mr Assange if he left the Ecuadorean embassy, despite the Swedish prosecutors' decision.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) said Mr Assange still faced the lesser charge of failing to surrender to a court, an offence punishable by up to a year in prison or a fine.

But the UK has not commented on whether it has received an extradition request from the US, where Mr Assange could, potentially, face trial. The plaintiff in the rape case was "shocked" by the decision, her lawyer said, and maintained her accusations against Mr Assange, Agence France-Presse reported.

Sweden's decision coincided with the release by Wikileaks of another tranche of documents about the US Central Intelligence Agency's technical capabilities.

BBC security correspondent Gordon Correra says previous leaks, of what look like highly sensitive secret documents, have been damaging to the agency.
What does Ecuador say?

Foreign Minister Guillaume Long said that the UK should now grant Mr Assange safe passage, as the European arrest warrant against him "no longer holds".

"Ecuador welcomes the decision to drop the charges," Mr Long added, quoted by AFP, while criticising the time it took Sweden to send an investigator to London to interview Mr Assange.

"Ecuador regrets that it took Swedish prosecutor more than four years to carry out this interview. This was a wholly unnecessary delay."

Earlier a source at the ministry told the Press Association that Ecuador had "fully co-operated with the Swedish justice system". The source added that Ecuador would now intensify its diplomatic efforts with the UK so that Julian Assange could "enjoy his asylum in Ecuador".

At a press briefing on Friday, Sweden's top prosecutor Marianne Ny said that by remaining in the embassy in London Mr Assange had evaded the exercise of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) that would have seen him extradited to Sweden. - BBC

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