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Sweden Drops Rape Investigation into Wikileaks’ Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after he was arrested by British police, in London, Britain, April 11, 2019. (Henry Nicholls/Reuters)

Sweden has ended an investigation into rape allegations brought against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

“Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Eva-Marie Persson has today decided to discontinue the investigation,” said prosecutors. “The reason for this decision is that the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question.”

Assange was captured by authorities in Britain in 2010 following the rape allegations in Sweden. While Sweden had fought to extradite him, Assange managed to delay the extradition and in 2012 holed himself up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he remained for seven years before Ecuador expelled him into the hands of British police.

The decision by Swedish prosecutors may make it easier for Assange to be extradited to the U.S., where he is currently wanted on charges relating to a document dump published by Wikileaks in 2010. Those documents contained classified information from the U.S. military, and were leaked to the organization by then-private Bradley Manning. Manning pleaded guilty to charges of espionage and was sentenced to 21 to 35 years in prison, but had his sentence commuted by President Obama in 2017.

A full hearing to decide on Assange’s extradition to the U.S. is scheduled for late February in Britain. If extradition is allowed, Assange will face charges of espionage, including conspiring with Manning to crack a password that would provide access to classified material on a U.S. government computer.

In 2016 Wikileaks released thousands of documents stolen by Russian hackers from Democratic National Committee servers that showed favoritism in the DNC towards then-candidate Hillary Clinton at the expense of Bernie Sanders. The revelations caused Democratic infighting and led to the resignation of then-DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

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