Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is no longer being investigated on charges of sexual coercion and lesser-degree rape, Swedish authorities announced on May 19.
That’s not because they believe him innocent, though. Special prosecutor Marianne Ny told media:
“The decision to discontinue the preliminary investigation is not because we’ve been able to make a full assessment of the evidence in this case, but because we didn’t see any possibilities to advance the investigation forward. So we don’t make any statements on the issue of guilt.”
Remaining charges of alleged coercion and lesser-degree rape can be still be pursued should Assange, 46, return to Sweden. The statute of limitations on those charges is 10 years, and do not expire until August 2020, Ny noted. An original charge of sexual molestation expired in 2015.
Assange quickly announced relief via Twitter.
Detained for 7 years without charge by while my children grew up and my name was slandered. I do not forgive or forget.
— Julian Assange (@JulianAssange) May 19, 2017
Multiple charges were filed against Assange in 2010 after he visited Sweden for 10 days. Two different women claimed he regularly coerced them for sex (at times with force), deliberately tearing a condom in one incident, and demanding unprotected sex in others. He also refused to leave one’s home, one of the accusers alleges, and refused to be tested for sexually-transmitted disease.
Assange, a native Australian, currently resides in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. He was granted asylum there in June 2012 after refusing to surrender to authorities in Britain, which has an extradition treaty with Sweden.
Ecuador’s foreign minister at the embassy, Ricardo Patiño, claimed his decision to grant political asylum was to prevent Assange from being sentenced to death by political enemies.
Despite today’s announcement, Assange will still remain inside the embassy compound, and not only to avoid arrest for his lack of cooperation in 2012.
Britain also has an extradition treaty with the United States, which has ongoing investigation of Assange since 2010 for possible violation of the Espionage Act of 1917.
Assange allegedly accepted secret information from Chelsea Manning. A WikiLeaks disclosure of that information may have threatened U.S. security and foreign relations, officials say.
Both U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and CIA Mike Pompeo confirmed last month they have interest in arresting Assange.
Featured image by Jack Taylor/Getty Images