Sweden Drops Investigation Into Rape Allegation Against Julian Assange

Image: AP

Julian Assange has evaded more charges by running out the clock. Sweden has announced it has dropped an investigation into a rape allegation made against the Wikileaks founder, arguing that too much time has elapsed since the accusation was made in 2010. In a news conference, NPR reports, Swedish Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Eva-Marie Persson stated that the allegation was “credible and reliable,” but that “the evidential situation has been weakened to such an extent that there is no longer any reason to continue the investigation.”

Investigations into this and three other allegations of sexual assault have played a leading role in Julian Assange’s trajectory. In 2012, he fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London, for the explicit reason of avoiding extradition to Sweden for questioning, which he feared would lead to extradition to the U.S.

Three allegations of sexual assault were also dropped in 2015 when the statute of limitations ran out. The Guardian reported that prosecutors were unable to bring charges as they were unable to question him during his nearly seven-year stay at the embassy.

Assange contended that a Swedish authority declined to take his statement at the embassy or else to “promise not to send me to the United States.”

Instead, he put out his affidavit published on WikiLeaks, containing specious quotes from alleged victims, with claims that the police made up the charges. The “quotes” were actually sourced from an email from his lawyers.

Assange is currently serving a 50-week prison sentence in London for skipping bail in 2012 to avoid the investigations. The Guardian detailed two women’s accounts of sexual assault in 2010. Assange initially dismissed the allegations as “dirty tricks” by the Pentagon.

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The latest investigation resumed in May, a month after Assange was forcibly dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy–where he’d reportedly skateboarded at night, walked around in his underwear, acquired a social media cat for good PR and didn’t clean up after it, meanwhile costing the Ecuadorian government nearly $1 million a year–by British authorities in order to honor the U.S.’s extradition request. In May, a UK judge called the stay a “deliberate attempt to delay justice.”

In May, the Department of Justice announced that he’d been charged with 18 counts connected to compromising national security by allegedly helping Chelsea Manning to crack the password to a government computer and publishing hundreds of thousands of documents, as well as a video of American airstrikes murdering over a dozen people, including Reuters journalists, to the sound of laughter. Manning, who’s spent this time advocating for transgender rights and calling for government transparency, survived a torturous seven years in prison before President Obama commuted her sentence in 2017. She was sent back to jail in May for refusing to testify before a grand jury.

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The Obama administration decided against charging Assange for publishing classified documents on the basis of First Amendment rights, rightfully; doing so would imperil journalism. The Trump DOJ has no problem with that, despite the fact that WikiLeaks had been so very helpful for this administration.

If convicted, Assange could face a maximum prison sentence of 175 years. He has declined to extradite himself voluntarily.

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About the author

Whitney Kimball

Staff reporter, Gizmodo. wkimball @ gizmodo