السبت , يونيو 13 2020

Assange 'disappointed' as case dropped

Julian Assange

Julian Assange, pictured here in 2014, remains in the Ecuadorian embassy in London

Swedish prosecutors have dropped their investigation into sexual assault claims against Julian Assange because they ran out of time to question him.

The Wikileaks founder said he was “extremely disappointed” and said the Swedish prosecutor had avoided hearing his side of the story.

The Australian journalist and activist denies all allegations and has said they are part of a smear campaign.

He still faces the more serious accusation of rape.

Mr Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, fearing he would then be sent to the US and put on trial for releasing secret American documents.

He remains in the embassy and has previously said he will not leave, even if the accusations of sex crimes were dropped.

Under Swedish law, charges cannot be laid without interviewing the suspect.

‘Ongoing negotiations’

“There was no need for any of this. I am an innocent man. I haven’t even been charged,” said Mr Assange.

“From the beginning I offered simple solutions. Come to the embassy to take my statement or promise not to send me to the United States. This Swedish official refused both. She even refused a written statement.”

He added: “I am strong but the cost to my family is unacceptable.”

However, Sweden’s director of public prosecution Marianne Nye said a request to interview Mr Assange inside the embassy had been submitted but permission was yet to be granted.

She said she hoped to arrange an interview as there were “ongoing negotiations” between Sweden and Ecuador.


Mr Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden

A statement from Swedish prosecutors said Ms Nye had discontinued her investigation into alleged sexual molestation and unlawful coercion.

An additional alleged incident of sexual molestation will be “time barred” – that is, time will have run out to question Mr Assange – on 18 August.

The Swedish statement also said an allegation of rape was due to expire on 17 August 2020, but that investigation would continue.

The alleged events took place in August 2010.

‘Terrible injustice’

Labour peer and human rights lawyer Helena Kennedy, a member of Mr Assange’s legal team, said: “Why in all those five years did the Swedish prosecution authorities fail to come to London to question Assange, as was repeatedly offered?

“Julian Assange has spent more time incarcerated in the small rooms of the embassy, with no access to fresh air or exercise and contrary to international law, than he could ever spend in a Swedish prison on these allegations.”

Mr Assange’s mother Christine said: “I have privately shed many tears for many years – the terrible injustice of it all.”

The cost of policing the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge for the past three years now stands at around £12m ($18.8m; €16.8m).

The UK has made a formal protest to the government of Ecuador.

Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire said: “Ecuador must recognise that its decision to harbour Mr Assange more than three years ago has prevented the proper course of justice.

“As a result, some of the serious sexual allegations against him will now expire. It is completely unacceptable that the British taxpayer has had to foot the bill for this abuse of diplomatic relations.”

Wikileaks has published thousands of secret documents, which have caused intense embarrassment for the US and lifted the lid on diplomatic relations.

Mr Assange co-founded the website in 2006.

شاهد أيضاً

COPTIC SOLIDARITY LAUNCHES URGENT CALL TO END CRIME OF FORCED DISAPPEARANCE OF COPTIC WOMEN IN EGYPT

A Coptic woman, Ranya Abd al-Masih (“servant of Christ”), 39, disappeared in Egypt on April 22, 2020, …