The rape charge against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been dropped by Swedish officials.
Sweden’s director of public prosecutions, Marianne Ny, announced in a brief post on her department’s website the end of the investigation on Assange’s case. I said there is no reason to believe that the decision to surrender him to Sweden can be executed in the foreseeable future. Another allegation of sexual assault was previously dropped in Sweden in 2015.
Assange himself was quick to “react” to this newest development in his case. Assange posted an old photo of himself smiling widely on Twitter looking either triumphant or mischievous, without any caption shortly after Sweden’s announcement on Friday. He has not given any formal statement on the dropping of the investigation into his case.
Assange has long firmly denied the sexual allegations. Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he sought and was granted asylum in 2012 to avoid extradition to the U.S. where he can face prosecution.
The dropping of the charges by Swedish officials does not mean Assange is a free man already. The U.K. police have said that Assange is still wanted for jumping bail and will face arrest if he leaves the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
But the bigger news, if not the great question, now is whether the UK has already received a U.S. extradition warrant for Assange. WikiLeaks also tweeted: “UK refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received a U.S. extradition warrant for Julian Assange. Focus now moves to the UK.”
Assange, an Australian citizen, once extradited to the U.S. faces the prospect of the death penalty over allegations of revealing government secrets through the site he founded, WikiLeaks.
The U.S. media reported last month that U.S. officials have prepared charges to seek Assange’s arrest. The Justice Department has been investigating Assange and WikiLeaks dating back to 2010 when the site became known and widely talked-about for posting thousands of files stolen by the former US Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, known as Chelsea Manning.