COPENHAGEN – The Swedish prosecutor’s office announced on Friday that its investigation against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for alleged rape had been closed, meaning an international arrest warrant linked to the case was revoked.
In a press conference, prosecutor Marianne Ny said the probe was being dropped because there were no further ways to advance the case.
Assange responded angrily, by posting “I do not forgive or forget,” on his Twitter account.
“Detained for 7 years without charge by while my children grew up and my name was slandered,” he tweeted.
However, Ny added the preliminary investigation could be reopened should he enter Sweden before 2020, when the statute of limitations on the final case against him runs out.
The circumstances were difficult for those affected and, though all possible avenues had been used, the investigation remained inconclusive she said, adding that one of the main delays was the fact that Assange had not wanted to travel to Sweden.
London’s Metropolitan Police said a warrant that had been issued by the United Kingdom for failing to surrender to court still stood, meaning Assange would be arrested if he set foot outside the embassy.
“Now that the situation has changed and the Swedish authorities have discontinued their investigation into that matter, Assange remains wanted for a much less serious offense,” read the statement.
The preliminary investigation into Assange, 44, was opened in 2010.
He had been living at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, seeking refuge to avoid being arrested and extradited to Sweden where Assange maintained he could be extradited once again, this time to the United States.
Assange is wanted by US authorities for revealing secret government documents through Wikileaks.
His lawyer told Swedish press that he was now free to leave the embassy for the first time in five years.
Assange’s defense presented a new request to have his European arrest warrant lifted two weeks ago, claiming there were no further ways to advance the investigation and upholding it was not proportional.
The team had tried to have the case dropped twice: in June 2104, citing the trial’s paralysis, and in February 2016, after a United Nations group concluded that his detention was arbitrary.
In both cases the court rejected the petition, arguing that Assange was still a suspect and there was a risk he would try to avoid a trial or any hypothetical sentence.
In November 2016, he was questioned by Swedish authorities in London over the accusations that he had assaulted a girl while she slept, a charge known as “lesser-degree rape” in Sweden.
In a statement following the interrogation, he denounced that the case was abusive and maintained his innocence.
He was originally also under investigation for two counts of alleged molestation and one of unlawful coercion, but the statue of limitations on these expired in 2015.