Julian Assange's accuser 'shocked' by Sweden dropping rape investigation

Lawyer accuses WikiLeaks founder of obstructing trial because he was 'scared'

Lizzie Dearden
Friday 19 May 2017 13:31 BST

The woman who accused Julian Assange of rape has said she is “shocked” by Sweden’s decision to drop the seven-year investigation.

A lawyer representing the woman, who met the WikiLeaks founder at a 2010 conference in Stockholm, said that claimant's view was that no decision to end the case “can make her change that Assange exposed her to rape”.

Elisabeth Fritz said: “It is a scandal that a suspected rapist can disregard the judiciary and thus avoid trial.

“Proof of evidence in the case is available and that evidence should have been tried in court…the wait has been long.”

The lawyer said prosecutors should not have “given up the case” before it reached court and accused Mr Assange of deliberately obstructing the judicial process because he was “afraid”.

The Australian activist repeatedly said he was “entirely innocent” of the allegations, which stemmed from a meeting with the claimant in August 2010.

She accused him of having sex with her as she slept without using a condom, despite repeatedly having denied him unprotected sex – an act that constitutes rape under Swedish law.

Sexual assault case against Julian Assange dropped

Mr Assange argued that the sex was consensual and has denounced the accusations as “politically motivated”, seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy claiming a European arrest warrant could be used to extradite him to the US.

“This is a total victory for us,” his lawyer Per Samuelson said.

“That's because we finally were able to get the interview done and he could describe what really happened and also because we could show that the United States is hunting him, which we could not do before.”

Juan Branco, another lawyer representing Mr Assange, suggested he could seek asylum in France after appealing for “political intervention” by new President Emmanuel Macron.

Swedish prosecutors stressed that the closure of the preliminary rape and sexual assault investigation did not constitute a judgement on Mr Assange’s guilt or innocence.

The country's director of public prosecutions, Marianne Ny, said: “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.

“So we won't make any statements on the issue of guilt."

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange

Mr Assange 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.

Despite the European arrest warrant issued by Sweden being lifted, the Metropolitan Police confirmed it would still arrest the Australian over skipping bail when he sought asylum at the embassy.

“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.”

A police officer walks past people gathering outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London on 19 May

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, as shock from WikiLeaks revelations over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan reverberated around the world.

A spokesperson for WikiLeaks claimed the British government ”refuses to confirm or deny“ whether it has received a US extradition request over the leaked diplomatic cables and military documents.

The Ecuadorian government had sent Sweden a letter saying there was a “serious failure” by the prosecutor, including a “lack of initiative” to complete inquiries.

The UN had also 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.

The investigation was dropped days after Chelsea Manning, who provided WikiLeaks with classified intelligence on Iraq and Afghanistan that shocked the world, was freed from prison.

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