Swedish authorities will stop pursuing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over allegations of sexual assault after the statute of limitations runs out in the next few days. The country's law states that prosecutors must interview the accused before charges can be filed, the BBC reports. Assange, however, will still face a rape investigation.
Attorneys have until August 13th to question Assange about accusations of sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. The statute of limitations on another claim of sexual molestation runs out on August 18th. Prosecutors have until 2020, though, to question and possibly charge Assange for the rape allegation. Swedish authorities are expected to make a formal announcement Thursday.
The WikiLeaks founder has denied all of the accusations and that they are part of an attempt to sully his name.
The Australian is currently residing in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he sought asylum in 2012. The BBC reports that he will not leave the embassy even if the charges are dropped out of fear for extradition to the United States where he could be tried for making public secret documents. The U.K. has a legal obligation to extradite the WikiLeaks founder to the States, given the chance.
A Swedish prosecutor had attempted to set up an interview with Assange in the embassy in March, but authorities were unable to negotiate terms with the embassy.
The woman who made the claims against Assange is reportedly relieved that some of the charges will be dropped. "She had wanted him to stand before the court and answer the accusations but it's five years ago and she's not interested in going to court now," her lawyer, Claes Borgstrom, told the BBC. "She wants to put it all behind her. It's been a difficult time for her and she's now trying to forget about it and move on with her life."
One of Assange's Swedish lawyers told the BBC that they had long hoped the investigation would be dropped. The counsel, Thomas Olsson, added that he believed Assange could clear his name on the rape allegation.
Swedish prosecutors are expected to continue attempting to negotiate terms by which they could interview Assange over the last claim.