Julian Assange rape case dropped by Swedish prosecutors

Rebecca Speare-Cole
Gareth Peirce, representing Assange, told the court that her client was unable to adequately prepare for his 'very challenging case': Getty Images

A investigation into allegations of rape against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been discontinued, a Swedish prosecutor has said.

Deputy Chief Prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson announced that the preliminary investigation would be dropped at a press conference in Sweden on Tuesday.

"I want to inform about my decision to discontinue the preliminary investigation," she said.

"After conducting a comprehensive assessment of what has emerged during the course of the preliminary investigation I then make the assessment that the evidence is not strong enough to form the basis for filing an indictment."

However, the prosecutor said the decision to drop the investigation could be appealed.

Julian Assange at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London (Elizabeth Cook /PA)

Ms Perrson also said the alleged victim, who accused Assange of raping her in 2010, "submitted a credible and reliable version of events."

"Her statements have been coherent, extensive and detailed," she added.

Assange is still fighting extradition from the UK to the US, which accuses him of publishing secret documents as well as serving a 50-week prison sentence in the UK for breaching bail conditions.

He has been in custody in Britain since April when he was evicted from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he had initially been granted asylum.

The WikiLeaks founder was immediately arrested and was jailed for 50 weeks for breaching his bail conditions in 2012, when he went into hiding to avoid extradition to Sweden over the rape allegations.

In June, a Swedish court ruled that Assange should not be detained, so that he would not be extradited from British custody while the preliminary rape investigation continued.

The 48 year-old Australian citizen has repeatedly denied the rape allegation against him, made in 2010.

He faces 18 charges in the US, including allegations that he conspired to break into a Pentagon computer and worked with former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak hundreds of thousands of classified documents.

The move by the prosecutor heads off a possible dilemma for the British courts which could potentially have had to decide between competing extradition requests from the United States and Sweden.

Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, said in a tweet that the focus should now move onto the "threat" that Assange has been "warning about for years: the belligerent prosecution of the United States and the threat it poses to the First Amendment."

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