Julian Assange has declared that “the proper war is just commencing” after Swedish prosecutors unexpectedly dropped their investigation into an allegation of rape against him, ending a torturous seven-year extradition battle that nevertheless leaves significant question marks over his future.
The 45-year-old WikiLeaks founder appeared on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he had sought asylum in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, and said Friday’s decision was “an important victory”.
After raising a clenched fist in salute, however, he vowed that “threats” made by US officials that he could be arrested on espionage charges “will not be tolerated” and said his organisation was escalating its leaks of documents about the CIA.
Assange still faces arrest over breaching his bail conditions if he leaves the embassy, the Metropolitan police confirmed, and he fears the US will seek his extradition over WikiLeaks’ publishing activities.
Sweden’s director of public prosecutions, Marianne Ny, made the surprise announcement on Friday morning that the country’s authorities would no longer pursue the investigation into a rape claim by a woman in Stockholm in 2010.
Ny’s decision had not been taken because of any judgment regarding guilt or innocence, she said, but because prosecutors had concluded that “all prospects of pursuing the investigation under present circumstances are exhausted”.
If Assange were to “make himself available” to the Swedish courts in future, however, “I will be able to decide to resume the investigation immediately,” she added.
In his appearance on Friday afternoon, the Australian described the period since his initial arrest as a “terrible injustice” and said: “Seven years without charge while my children grew up without me: that is not something I can forgive. That is not something I can forget.”