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Julian Assange rape charges dropped, but he still faces arrest

An espionage investigation in the US still hangs over the WikiLeaks founder.

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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange squints in the sunlight as he prepares to speak from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in 2016.

Carl Court/Getty Images

Sweden has dropped a rape investigation against Julian Assange, potentially paving the way for the WikiLeaks founder to finally leave self-imposed exile.

Prosecutors began investigating Assange in 2010. Two years later, he sought sanctuary in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and has lived in the tiny building ever since. In that time, WikiLeaks has continued to release classified information, prompting an espionage investigation in the US that still hangs over Assange.

Since its inception a decade ago, WikiLeaks says it has released more than 10 million secret government documents. Revelations from those leaks have included a video showing a US Apache helicopter in the Iraq War shooting, killing two journalists, and thousands of behind-the-scenes emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

In March of this year, the organization released a cache of alleged top-secret CIA documents that discussed spying via everyday gadgets including phones and TVs.

Officers of London's Metropolitan Police have stood ready for years to arrest and extradite Assange should he step out of the embassy. Although the international sexual assault investigation has now been discontinued, Metropolitan Police said he still faces arrest for the lesser charge of failing to surrender himself earlier in the process.

WikiLeaks has expressed concern that Assange could still be arrested and extradited to the US to face espionage charges. Until that's confirmed either way, it's unlikely he will risk leaving the embassy.

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