Sweden drops WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange rape investigation

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Samuelson said Sweden's judicial system "spoiled and wasted five, six years of his life. but he is happy today".

Assange has spent almost five years inside the Latin American country's London embassy, but he seemed robust and defiant in his brief balcony appearance. "He is the only political prisoner in Western Europe".

Members of Assange's defense team claim that all charges against their client are allegedly politically motivated and had been brought up at the request of certain quarters because Assange's activities, including the publication of classified diplomatic correspondence, had drawn the ire of many countries, especially the United States. The Swedish High Prosecutor's Office also noted that, under national legislation, the Working Group's opinion had no formal significance for the ongoing preliminary investigation. Therefore the investigation is discontinued.

"At this point, all possibilities to conduct the investigation are exhausted".

"We are not making a statement about his guilt", Ny said, adding that the investigation could be reopened if Assange came to Sweden before the statute of limitations deadline for the rape allegation in 2020.

Assange, 45, has always maintained his innocence.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last month that "we will seek to put some people in jail" when asked if arresting Assange was a "priority" for Washington.

In November 2010, a Stockholm court issued a warrant for Assange's arrest on several counts of rape and sexual molestation.

Ny told reporters that the WikiLeaks founder had "tried to dodge all attempts at arrest" by British and Swedish authorities.

Standing by the Ecuadorian flag, on the balcony which in recent years has become his podium for addressing the media, Julian Assange delivered a characteristic and vitriolic attack on Western Governments and the European Union.

"If Assange went into British custody then the Swedes may well revisit their decision on proportionality, as extradition suddenly easier", he tweeted.

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Prosecutor Marriane Ny said his European Arrest warrant was being revoked as it was "impossible to serve him notice" at the Ecuadorean embassy in London where he has been confined since 2012.

London's Metropolitan Police force says that it "is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the embassy".

But it added that Assange is now wanted for a "much less serious offense" than the original sex crimes claims, and police "will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offense".

British police kept up a round-the-clock guard outside the embassy until December 2015, when the operation was scaled back partly because of the costs, which had exceeded 11 million pounds (over $17.5 million at the time).

In view of this, and that to continue with legal proceedings would require Julian Assange's personal appearance in court, there is no longer any reason to continue with the investigation.

"That's because we finally were able to get the interview done (with the Swedish side) and he could describe what really happened and also because we could show that the United States is hunting him, which we could not do before", Samuelson said.

After the Swedish announcement.

USA and British officials Friday declined to say if the United States has requested Assange's extradition. "Focus now moves to United Kingdom", the anti-secrecy website tweeted.

British police said before the announcement that Assange is still wanted in Britain for jumping bail. It is not clear if that may change now that the investigation has been dropped.

Hailed as a hero by supporters and reviled as a manipulator by critics, the white-haired Australian has been holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over rape allegations.

The Swedish Prosecution Authority said Friday that chief Marianne Ny "has made a decision to discontinue the investigation" and Ny said she will call back the European arrest warrant on Assange.