Sweden Drops Julian Assange Rape Investigation
Sweden has dropped an investigation into rape and sexual assault allegations made against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, The New York Times reports.
Sweden’s deputy director of public prosecutions, Eva-Marie Persson, said of the decision, “The evidence is not strong enough to form the basis of an indictment. In such a situation, the preliminary investigation should be discontinued, and that is what has happened.”
The allegations date back to 2010, when two women accused Assange of sexually assaulting them during separate encounters. Both women shared similar stories of encounters that began consensually but allegedly turned into coercive and even violent experiences. Assange was ultimately hit with four charges: Unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and rape. Assange denied any wrongdoing.
After Assange was questioned by police, he left Sweden for the United Kingdom, with Swedish prosecutors claiming Assange fled after his lawyers were told his client was set to be arrested. Over the next two years he fought extradition to Sweden, but was eventually forced to seek asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The allegations against Assange would also underpin the international conflicts surrounding WikiLeaks, with Assange at one point suggesting the accusations were part of a U.S. conspiracy to destroy WikiLeaks, and his lawyer calling the alleged victims “honey pots.”
In 2017, Swedish investigators “discontinued” the investigation, but only because they couldn’t formally notify Assange of any criminal suspicions while he was in the embassy. Authorities added that, if Assange became available again, they’d pick up the investigation, and they ultimately did after Ecuador withdrew asylum for Assange in April, booted him from the embassy and allowed British authorities to arrest him.
After reopening the investigation, Persson said Swedish authorities spoke with two more people who had not been previously interviewed, and she said that the accusers were credible, though acknowledged of their testimonies were contradictory. As The Guardian noted, the investigation into Assange previously faced a setback when a Swedish court ruled in June that Assange should not be extradited to Sweden on the allegations.
“My overall assessment is that the evidential situation has been weakened to such an extent that there is no longer any reason to continue the investigation,” Persson said.
Since his ejection from the embassy and arrest in London, Assange has remained in jail as he awaits a hearing on his potential extradition to the United States, where he faces 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act. That hearing is currently scheduled for early next year.
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