Julian Assange will still be arrested if he leaves Ecuadorian embassy in London despite Sweden dropping probe
WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange will be arrested if he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy despite Sweden dropping its sexual assault investigation, British police have confirmed.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said that despite Sweden's European arrest warrant for him being lifted, he was under a separate warrant for skipping bail.
"Westminster Magistrates' Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Julian Assange following him failing to surrender to the court on the 29 June 2012," a statement said.
"The Metropolitan Police Service is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the Embassy."
As the Swedish investigation continued in December 2010, Mr Assange was jailed in Wandsworth Prison in isolation for 10 days and then put under house arrest for 550 days under powers granted by an international arrest warrant.
Scotland Yard stood down the 24/7 police presence outside the Ecuadorian Embassy building in 2015 but pledged to make “every effort” to arrest Mr Assange if he left.
There had been controversy over the escalating cost of the exercise, which was believed to be over £12 million.
The Met said its response "reflected the serious nature" of the original accusations, suggesting it would now scale down its efforts.
"Now that the situation has changed and the Swedish authorities have discontinued their investigation into that matter, Mr Assange remains wanted for a much less serious offence," a spokesperson said.
"The MPS will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence. The MPS will not comment further on the operational plan."
The Australian activist sought asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy while on bail in 2012, over fears the Swedish investigation would result in him being extradited to the US over leaked military documents and diplomatic cables.
Prosecutors dropped the probe after chief prosecutor Marianne Ny said there were no further avenues to pursue to take the investigation forward, in a court document seen by Reuters.
Mr Assange reacted to the news by tweeting a photo of himself smiling inside the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he has been living for almost five years.
He then said he will not "forgive or forget" being "slandered" and "detained without charge".
He tweeted: "Detained for 7 years without charge by while my children grew up and my name was slandered. I do not forgive or forget."
Detained for 7 years without charge by while my children grew up and my name was slandered. I do not forgive or forget.— Julian Assange (@JulianAssange) May 19, 2017
The Ecuadorian government had sent Sweden a letter saying there had been a “serious failure” by the prosecutor, including a “lack of initiative” to complete inquiries.
It raised developments in the US since the election of Donald Trump as President, including a speech by CIA director Mike Pompeo describing WikiLeaks as a “hostile intelligence service”.
The letter argued that recent public declarations constituted an “obvious risk” for Mr Assange, who originally faced three sexual assault charges that he denied.
He was questioned by an Ecuadorian prosecutor with Swedish officials present inside the embassy in November, following a bilateral agreement that ended years of legal wrangling.
Prosecutors said the interview sparked further investigations but "no further measures remaining that are possible to take in order to further the investigation".
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.”
She said the probe could be reopened if Mr Assange returns to Sweden before statute of limitations ends in August 2020, but the move appears highly unlikely.
“The decision to discontinue the investigation is not because we've been able to make a full assessment of the evidence, but because we didn't see possibilities to advance the investigation,” Ms Ny added.
“So we won't make any statements on the issue of guilt”.
The UN had called on Swedish and British authorities to free Mr Assange from “arbitrary detention” in a report released last year, with the UK failing to overturn the findings on appeal.
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“Now that all appeals are exhausted I expect that the UK and Sweden will comply with their international obligations and set me free,” Mr Assange said following the ruling.
“It is an obvious and grotesque injustice to detain someone for six years who hasn’t even been charged with an offence.”
Background to Sweden dropping its case against Julian Assange https://t.co/3W8ZFa9UCH— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) May 19, 2017
Chelsea Manning, who provided WikiLeaks with classified intelligence on Iraq and Afghanistan that shocked the world, was freed from prison on Wednesday.
The transgender former US intelligence analyst left Fort Leavenworth, months after Barack Obama commuted her 35-year sentence as one of his final acts as President.
The former military intelligence analyst gave classified information to the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks in 2010. He was acquitted of aiding the enemy, the gravest charge laid against him by the US government. He was, however, found guilty of 19 other charges including espionage, theft and computer fraud.
Following the verdict, Mr Assange accused Obama of "national security extremism," referring to Manning "the most important journalistic source the world has ever seen".
"The government kept Bradley Manning in a cage, stripped him naked and isolated him in order to break him, an act formally condemned by the United Nations Special Rapporteur for torture. This was never a fair trial," Assange said from inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.
"It is a dangerous precedent and an example of national security extremism. It is a short-sighted judgment that cannot be tolerated and it must be reversed."
“It’s hard not to draw the conclusion that Manning's trial was about sending a message: the US government will come after you,” Amnesty International noted.
Making a statement alongside his guilty pleas in 2013, Manning said he wanted to reveal the “bloodlust” of the US military and so-called disregard for human life.
He transmitted his first batch of papers to WikiLeaks, founded by Assange, on 3 February 2001 with an attached note. “This is possibly one of the more significant documents of our time, removing the fog of war, and revealing the true nature of the 21st century asymmetric warfare. Have a good day.”
Thereafter he handed over more than 700,000 documents, including battlefield notes from Iraq and Afghanistan and a video of a US helicopter attack in Baghdad. Last month marked the fifth anniversary of the release of the 'Collateral Murder' video which showed a July 12, 2007 US Apache attack helicopter attack upon individuals in a Baghdad suburb.
The attack killed twelve people including a Reuters photographer and his driver.
On August 21, 2013, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison. On the day after her sentencing, Manning announced via a statement on the morning talk show Today that she is transgender and wanted to be known as Chelsea.
The whistleblower behind the Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg, called Manning a 'hero'.
Independent News Service