Assange 'evaded all attempts' to extradite him - Swedish prosecutor

Swedish prosecutors have announced they are dropping the country's rape investigation of Julian Assange.

Assange, 45, took refuge in the embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over the rape allegation, which he denies.

Assange, an Australian national, has previously said that he feared that if he left the embassy he could end up being extradited and face the death penalty in the United States over allegations of revealing hundreds of thousands o secret US military and diplomatic documents through WikiLeaks, CNN reported.

In documents filed Friday to the Stockholm District Court, Ny wrote that "in view of the fact that all prospects of pursuing the investigation are now exhausted, it appears that, in light of the views expressed by the Supreme Court in its assessment of the proportionality in this case, it could be argued that it becomes less proportionate to maintain the arrest of Julian Assange in his absence via a European Arrest Warrant".

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has suggested that the arrest of Assange could be an American priority, saying last month the US was "stepping up our efforts on all leaks".

Director of Public Prosecutions Marianne Ny said she had made a decision to "discontinue" the investigation into an alleged sex offence, although it is unlikely to lead to Mr Assange immediately leaving the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been living for nearly five years.

According to reports, soon after the news of the Swedish decision broke, Wikileaks tweeted that the focus now moves to the United Kingdom, as it has still not confirmed or denied whether it has received a USA extradition warrant for the websites founder.

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Ms Ny said the investigation could have progressed if Mr Assange was "formally served notice of the crimes of which he is suspected", adding: "This was a measure which was to have been conducted during the interview in London but Mr Assange refused to make it possible".

The UN had called on Swedish and British authorities to free Mr Assange from "arbitrary detention" in a report released past year, with the United Kingdom failing to overturn the findings on appeal. It does not clear Assange's name, however, and some experts say it puts him into an even more precarious legal situation if the USA has - as some suspect - a sealed indictment for his arrest.

It's not known if US officials have asked British police to arrest Assange because of a possible sealed USA indictment against him.

Ecuador's government asked the United Kingdom to give Mr Assange safe passage in order to allow him asylum in the South American nation. "Focus now moves to United Kingdom", the group tweeted.

The letter argued that recent public declarations constituted an "obvious risk" for Mr Assange, who originally faced three sexual assault charges that he denied.

Assange said his legal team would reach out to British authorities to try to find a way forward, and he said he would be "happy" to have a dialogue with the U.S. Department of Justice despite its threats against him.

British officials said they do not comment on individual extradition cases.

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WikiLeaks played a central role in the 2016 presidential race when it published emails stolen through hacking the Democratic National Committee and later from John Podesta, chairman of Hillary Clinton's campaign.

"This has gone on long enough", Long said.

"Now that the situation has changed and the Swedish authorities have discontinued their investigation into that matter, Assange remains wanted for a much less serious offence". There were initially two separate allegations being investigated, but one was dropped in 2015 because the statute of limitations ran out.

A lawyer for the woman who alleged she was raped by Assange said "it's a scandal that a suspected rapist can avoid the judicial system and thus avoid a trial in court".

Towards the end of his presidency, Barack Obama decided she should be freed and the former intelligence analyst was recently released from jail. The rape allegation, the more serious claim, remained under investigation.

Police kept up round-the-clock guard outside the embassy until past year, when the operation was scaled back.

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