Two allegations of sexual assault leveled against Julian Assange by Swedish police were dropped Thursday due to that nation's statute of limitations.
But he still faces a more serious rape allegation and remains subject to if ever he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
“Julian Assange, on his own accord, has evaded prosecution by seeking refuge in the embassy of Ecuador,” Swedish chief prosecutor Marianne Ny said in a statement. “As the statute of limitation has [expired] … I am compelled to discontinue the investigation.”
Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, has not been charged in connection to the allegations and denies them, maintaining that they amount to politically motivated retaliation for his work exposing embarrassing government misdeeds. His lawyers say that should he travel to Sweden, he will be extradited to the U.S., which recently sentenced whistleblower (and Assange source) Chelsea Manning to 35 years' imprisonment.
“I am an innocent man. I haven’t even been charged," Assange told The Guardian. "From the beginning I offered simple solutions. Come to the [Ecuadorian] embassy to take my statement or promise not to send me to the United States. This Swedish official refused both.”
Since Assange entered Ecuador's embassy in 2012 and was granted asylum, the UK government has spent more than £12m maintaining a round-the-clock police presence at its doors to prevent him leaving.
The situation is a bureaucratic farce: Swedish prosecutors say they are willing to interview Assange in London, but Ecuador will not permit them to do so within their embassy. But Assange cannot leave the Embassy without being arrested by British police. If he waits out the statute of limitations on the remaining claim—another five years—he is likely to be collared anyway, for jumping bail.
Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters
Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks publisher and Australian Senate candidate currently sheltered in Ecuador's London Embassy, "has lodged a formal complaint asking Swedish police to open a criminal investigation
into alleged illegal United States intelligence activity in Europe directed against WikiLeaks and himself." [the Age]
Representatives of the government of Ecuador in London claim to have discovered a hidden microphone inside its London embassy
where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is living. The bug is being analyzed by forensics experts, and Ecuador intends to diclose more information on who controlled or planted it as they are available. It "was found inside the office of the Ecuadorean ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ana Alban, at the time of a visit to the embassy by Patino to meet with Assange on June 16."
Julian Assange has presented a set of
freedom-of-information data protection act liberated messages from GCHQ, the UK spy headquarters, concerning his own case. According to Assange, the messages reveal that UK spies believed that the Swedish rape inquiry against him was a "fit up" aimed at punishing him for his involvement in Wikileaks (many believe that the Swedish government would have aided in Assange's extradition to the USA, where there is a sealed Grand Jury indictment against him). He also revealed cables relating to the spies' candid opinion about his sheltering in the Ecuadorian embassy:
A message from September 2012, read out by Assange, apparently says: "They are trying to arrest him on suspicion of XYZ … It is definitely a fit-up… Their timings are too convenient right after Cablegate..."
...A second instant message conversation from August last year between two unknown people saw them call Assange a fool for thinking Sweden would drop its attempt to extradite him.
The conversation, as read out by Assange, goes: "He reckons he will stay in the Ecuadorian embassy for six to 12 months when the charges against him will be dropped, but that is not really how it works now is it? He's a fool… Yeah … A highly optimistic fool."
GCHQ acknowledges that the messages are real, but, "The disclosed material includes personal comments between some members of staff and do not reflect GCHQ's policies or views in any way."
Julian Assange reveals GCHQ messages discussing Swedish extradition [Giles Tremlett and Ben Quinn/Guardian]
At the Huffington Post, actor and activist John Cusack has a conversation with George Washington Law School professor and constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley, and Kevin McCabe, a pal of Cusack. The three discuss "WikiLeaks' impact on transparency, the government's response, and the comparison to the Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg."
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Photo: the scene outside the Ecuadorean embassy in London at this hour, via @wiseupforBM.
The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, has accepted Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's bid for asylum. Whether the UK will allow the Wikileaks founder to exit the South American country's embassy in London to enter exile is another matter entirely. The scene around the embassy over the last 24 hours has grown increasingly intense: police vans circling, cops entering the building where the embassy is located, protesters upset that the UK would seemingly violate decades of diplomatic precedent to grab a man who has not yet been charged with a crime. Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden over accusations of sexual assault against two Swedish women.
Backpack broadcaster James Albury has been webcasting here.
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The Guardian reports that the Ecuadorean government will grant asylum to embattled Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. The New York Times notes that the president of Ecuador denies this.
The highest UK court has ruled that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden to face accusations of rape and sexual assault. The decision is the result of a legal battle spanning a year and a half. In a Wikileaks statement released before the ruling, Assange maintains that the sexual misconduct case is part of a "coordinated effort" engineered by "US, UK, Swedish and Australian governments" to bring him closer to extradition to the US, "to face espionage charges for journalistic activities."
His attorneys have two weeks to appeal today's decision, over the point of whether the UK court is correctly interpreting international treaties.
From the Guardian:
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Wikileaks' founder will be deported to Sweden
to face rape allegations within a month. Assange has 14 days to seek to appeal to Britain's supreme court. [Guardian]