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Sweden drops rape investigation against Julian Assange

The investigation was reopened in April following the WikiLeaks founder's removal from the Ecuadorian embassy.

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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange leaves Southwark Crown Court in a security van after being sentenced on May 1 in London. 

Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Swedish officials said Tuesday that the investigation of rape allegations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has ended. Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Eva-Marie Persson said that Sweden is dropping the investigation because evidence has weakened due to the long period of time since the alleged rape in 2010, according to the Swedish Prosecution Authority. 

Assange is in custody in London after losing asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in the city earlier this year. After being accused of rape in 2010, Assange fled to the embassy, where he stayed from 2012 until his arrest on April 11. Sweden had dropped the investigation into Assange in 2017, but reopened it after his removal from the embassy. Assange was never formally charged, and he's denied the allegations. 

In a release, Persson said that the alleged victim has submitted a "credible and reliable version of events," but that evidence has weakened to such an extent that "that there is no longer any reason to continue the investigation."

In May, London's Southwark Crown Court sentenced Assange to 50 weeks in jail for skipping bail in 2012. He is also fighting the possibility of extradition to the US over charges stemming from his alleged role in what the US Justice Department calls "one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States." 

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson appeared to welcome the decision, saying Tuesday in a release that attention can now shift to the "threat Mr. 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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Originally published Nov. 19, 6:06 a.m. PT.
Update, 6:42 a.m. PT: Adds more background on Julian Assange.