Wikileaks founder Julian Assange raises his fist prior to addressing the media on the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London on May 19, 2017. Ecuador urged Britain today to “grant safe passage” out of the country to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after Sweden dropped a warrant that drove him to take refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy. / AFP PHOTO / Justin TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Prosecutor says country will not proceed with investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who was accused of rape, The Guardian reported.
“After conducting a comprehensive assessment of what has emerged during the course of the preliminary investigation I then make the assessment that the evidence is not strong enough to form the basis for filing an indictment,” the deputy chief prosecutor, Eva-Marie Persson, said.
The investigation against Julian Assange began in 2010 in Sweden shortly after his arrival. Two women declared violence on his part; Assange did not deny any connection with them, but claimed that everything happened by mutual agreement.
In August 2017, the Swedish prosecutor’s office terminated the investigation in most cases brought against Assange due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. However, in May 2019, the preliminary investigation was resumed. In June, Uppsala district court refused to arrest Assange in absentia, which would enable the authorities to ask Britain to extradite the founder of WikiLeaks, who was imprisoned after being deprived of his right to asylum at the Embassy of Ecuador in London.
Extradition of the founder of WikiLeaks is sought by the US authorities, where Assange is accused of publishing names of secret sources and conspiracy with an informant, former military intelligence analyst Bradley Manning. In May, the US Justice Department issued a criminal charge under which Assange faces up to 175 years in prison.
Assange appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday; By Henry Vaughan, PA
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared to struggle to say his own name as he faced court to fight extradition to the US.
Assange, 48, is accused of leaking the country’s government secrets in one of the largest ever compromises of confidential information.
Clean shaven and with his white hair combed back, he appeared in the dock at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday wearing a dark blue suit over a pale blue sweater and white shirt.
He mumbled, paused and stuttered as he gave his name and date of birth at the start of a case management hearing.
Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone and journalist and documentary maker John Pilger were among Assange’s supporters in a packed public gallery, while dozens of protesters gathered outside court.
The barrister Mark Summers QC said there is a “direct link” between the “reinvigoration” of the investigation, which was concluded during Barack Obama’s presidency, and the Donald Trump administration.
“Our case will be that this is a political attempt to signal to journalists the consequences of publishing information. It is legally unprecedented,” he said.
Mr Summers also claimed the US was involved in invading his client’s legal privilege.
“The American state has been actively engaged in intruding into privileged discussions between Mr Assange and his lawyers in the embassy, also unlawful copying of their telephones and computers (and) hooded men breaking into offices,” he said.
District Judge Vanessa Baraitser refused to grant defence lawyers more time to gather evidence and told Assange his next case management hearing will take place on December 19 before a full extradition hearing in February.
When his case was adjourned, Assange complained that he had not understood proceedings, and said: “This is not equitable.”
He said: “I can’t research anything, I can’t access any of my writing. It’s very difficult where I am.”
He told the judge he is up against a “superpower” with “unlimited resources” and appeared to be fighting back tears as he added: “I can’t think properly.”
Assange was jailed for 50 weeks in May for breaching his bail conditions after going into hiding in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for nearly seven years to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex offence allegations.
He was due to be released from high-security Belmarsh prison last month, but a judge remanded him in custody because there were “substantial grounds” for believing he would abscond.
Assange faces 18 charges in the US, including allegations he conspired to break into a Pentagon computer and worked with former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak hundreds of thousands of classified documents.
Former home secretary Sajid Javid signed an order in June allowing Assange to be extradited to the US over the computer-hacking allegations.
In May, WikiLeaks said it had “grave concerns” about Assange’s health after he was moved to a medical ward in Belmarsh prison. When he did not appear for a scheduled hearing, chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot referred to the Australian as “not very well”.
WikiLeaks said at the time: “During the seven weeks in Belmarsh his health has continued to deteriorate and he has dramatically lost weight. The decision of the prison authorities to move him into the health ward speaks for itself.”
In a statement before the hearing, Massimo Moratti, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Europe, said: “The British authorities must acknowledge the real risks of serious human rights violations Julian Assange would face if sent to the USA and reject the extradition request. The UK must comply with the commitment it’s already made that he would not be sent anywhere he could face torture or other ill-treatment.
“The UK must abide by its obligations under international human rights law that forbids the transfer of individuals to another country where they would face serious human rights violations. Were Julian Assange to be extradited or subjected to any other transfer to the USA, Britain would be in breach of these obligations.”
“It is an unprecedented attack on the rights of the defence, freedom of expression and access to information exposing massive human rights abuses and corruption. We call on international protection institutions to intervene to put a stop to this persecution,”/Adam ForrestThe Independent
Ecuadorian officials are travelling to London to allow US prosecutors to “help themselves” to items at the embassy – including legal papers, medical records and electronic equipment – the organisation has claimed.
WikiLeaks said neither Assange’s lawyers nor United Nations officials were allowed to be present for the handover of possessions. The material is said to include two of Assange’s manuscripts.
His lawyers said an illegal seizure of property had been requested by the US, describing the country as “the agent of political persecution” against the WikiLeaks founder.
Assange was dragged out of the embassy last month and is serving a 50-week prison sentence for bail violations. He faces an extradition request from the US after authorities there charged him with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.
Kristinn Hrafnsson, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, said: “On Monday Ecuador will perform a puppet show at the Embassy of Ecuador in London for their masters in Washington, just in time to expand their extradition case before the UK deadline on 14 June.
“The Trump administration is inducing its allies to behave like it’s the Wild West,” she added.
Baltasar Garzon, international legal coordinator for the defence of Assange and WikiLeaks, said: “It is extremely worrying that Ecuador has proceeded with the search and seizure of property, documents, information and other material belonging to the defence of Julian Assange, which Ecuador arbitrarily confiscated, so that these can be handed over to the agent of political persecution against him, the United States.
“It is an unprecedented attack on the rights of the defence, freedom of expression and access to information exposing massive human rights abuses and corruption. We call on international protection institutions to intervene to put a stop to this persecution.”
Ben Brandon, the lawyer representing the US at a recent extradition hearing, said there were computer room chats showing real-time discussions between Chelsea Manning and Assange over an attempt to gain access to classified US documents.
Earlier this week Swedish prosecutors announced they would reopen a 2010 rape case against the WikiLeaks founder.
Sweden reopens rape case against WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, wants extradition
LONDON — Swedish prosecutors announced on Monday they are reopening an investigation into a rape allegation against Julian Assange, a move that could impact efforts to extradite the WikiLeaks founder to the United States.
Speaking at a news conference in Stockholm, Eva-Marie Persson, Sweden’s deputy director of public prosecutions, said there is “still a probable cause to suspect that Assange committed rape” and “a new questioning of Assange is required.”
Assange denies the allegations.
Last month, Assange was expelled from the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, where he had claimed refuge for nearly seven years, since Sweden initially requested his extradition. Assange was arrested by British police on April 11 and later sentenced to 50 weeks in a British prison for skipping bail.
Sweden discontinued its investigation in 2017 because authorities said they were unable to advance the case while Assange was holed up at the embassy.
The Swedish investigation has been reopened at the request of the alleged victim.Sweden reopens Assange rape case
Sweden’s state prosecutor said May 13 she would reopen the rape case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, which was dropped in 2017. (Reuters)
Earlier this month, Assange told a British court that he would not consent to being extradited to the United States, where he is wanted on a charge of conspiring with a former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to hack a Defense Department computer. U.S. officials have been investigating Assange and Manning for their roles in the release of classified military and diplomatic documents in 2010.
The U.S. government is expected to outline its formal case for extradition in a British court next month.
If Sweden does seek to extradite Assange — a logical step if it wants to move forward with the rape investigation — Britain would face two competing extradition requests. It would be up to Britain’s Home Secretary to decide which request, if either, to prioritize.
Extradition experts said that decision would likely rest on factors such as the gravity of the allegations, the chronology of events and which extradition request came first.
Rebecca Niblock, an extradition lawyer with the London-based firm Kingsley Napley, said the Swedish case would likely take precedence over the U.S. one. “It would be very difficult politically to say that a computer intrusion offence is more serious than an allegation of rape,” she said.
If Assange were extradited to Sweden, then the United States could still pursue an extradition request with Swedish authorities. In that scenario, Britain would have to give consent.
Persson, the Swedish prosecutor, said that following Assange’s arrest last month in London, “the circumstances in this case have changed.”
She said that according to information received from British authorities, Assange will “serve 25 weeks of his sentence before he can be released.”
She added: “I am well aware of the fact that an extradition process is ongoing in the U.K. and that he could be extradited to the U.S. In the event of a conflict between a European arrest warrant and a request for extradition from the U.S., U.K. authorities will decide on the order of priority. The outcome of this process is impossible to predict.”