Julian Assange warns 'the proper war is just commencing' as Sweden drops rape investigation

Business Insider · Finance · 6 days ago

Julian Assange has said that, while today's news that Sweden has dropped its probe against him was an "important victory" and a vindication, "the proper war is just commencing".

In a speech from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in Knightsbridge, he slammed the circumstances that led him to take refuge there and termed it "detention".

"Seven years of detention without charge - imprisoned under house arrest and almost five years in this embassy without sunlight," he said.

"Seven years without charge while my children grew up without me."

He said he hoped now for a dialogue with UK authorities who have not yet given a clear answer on whether or not he will be extradited to the US if he leaves the embassy.

While a "legal conflict" with the United States and the UK continues, the "road is far from over" he said.

Thanking his supporters, including a legal team he said worked for "no money", he added that WikiLeaks would continue its publications.

Sweden’s Director of Public Prosecutions Marianne Ny said on Friday she had decided to "discontinue" the investigation into an alleged sex offence.

Mr Assange has been living in London's Ecuadorian Embassy for almost five years, afraid that extradition to Sweden would lead to being handed over to the US where he is wanted for leaking thousands of military and diplomatic documents.

He did not appear immediately upbeat in response to the news, however, tweeting: "Detained for seven years without charge while my children grew up and my name was slandered. I do not forgive or forget."

The probe has been dropped because there was "no reason to believe that the decision to surrender him to Sweden can be executed in the foreseeable future", said Swedish prosecutors.

Asked if Britain would now support a request to extradite Mr Assange to the United States, Prime Minister Theresa May said: "We look at extradition requests on a case-by-case basis."

Speaking at a Conservative campaign event in Edinburgh, Mrs May added: "In relation to Julian Assange, any decision that is taken about UK action in relation to him were he to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy would be an operational matter for the police."

Meanwhile the London Metropolitan Police has said it was still obliged to arrest Mr Assange should he leave the embassy since there is still an active warrant for a lesser charge.

It said in a statement: “Westminster Magistrates' Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Julian Assange following him failing to surrender to the court on the 29 June 2012. The Metropolitan Police Service is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the Embassy.

“Whilst Mr Assange was wanted on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for an extremely serious offence, the MPS response reflected the serious nature of that crime. 

“Now that the situation has changed and the Swedish authorities have discontinued their investigation into that matter, Mr Assange remains wanted for a much less serious offence. 

“The MPS will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence. 

It said it would not comment further on its operational plan but added: “The priority for the MPS must continue to be arresting those who are currently wanted in the Capital in connection with serious violent or sexual offences for the protection of Londoners.”