Swedish prosecutors announced yesterday, 19 November that they have dropped the investigation into sexual offences allegedly committed by Julian Assange. The Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Eva-Marie Person, cited the weakening of evidence over the protracted investigative period as the reason for the decision. Notwithstanding the decision, Ms Persson made clear in her statement that she found the account of the complainant to be “credible and reliable” however, under Swedish law cases such as this require corroborative evidence.
The investigation began in 2010 when Mr Assange was accused of rape by one woman and sexual assault by another following a Wikileaks conference in Stockholm. Mr Assange has always denied the allegations, maintaining the sexual encounters were consensual. The preliminary investigation was dropped in 2017 as prosecutors were unable to proceed while Mr Assange remained in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Mr Assange entered the embassy seeking refuge following a request from Sweden to the UK to extradite him for questioning in respect of the 2010 allegations.
Mr Assange is currently in custody at HMP Belmarsh in south east London pending determination of a US extradition request, signed by Home Secretary Sajid Javid in June 2019. Mr Assange is facing 18 charges in the US relating to Wikileaks’ 2010 release of thousands of classified documents and diplomatic cables detailing US military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wikileaks has welcomed the Swedish decision and called for a renewed focus on the US extradition request.
Last month Mr Assange’s request to delay the extradition hearing was rejected by District Judge Baraitser and the hearing remains scheduled to take place at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in February 2020.