FILE PHOTO: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange leaves Southwark Crown Court after being sentenced in London, Britain, May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – A Swedish prosecutor said on Tuesday she would not proceed with an investigation into an allegation of rape against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after a review of the evidence.
Deputy Chief Prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson said that the complainant’s evidence was deemed credible and reliable, but that after nearly a decade, witnesses’ memories had faded.
“After conducting a comprehensive assessment of what has emerged during the course of the preliminary investigation I then make the assessment that the evidence is not strong enough to form the basis for filing an indictment,” Persson told a news conference.
The 48 year-old Australian citizen has repeatedly denied the allegation against him, made in 2010.
The move by the prosecutor heads off a possible dilemma for the British courts which could potentially have had to decide between competing extradition requests from the United States and Sweden. However, the prosecutor said the decision to drop the investigation could be appealed.
Assange is being held in a British jail pending a hearing in February on extradition to the United States, which wants the 48 year-old Australian citizen over 18 criminal counts including conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law.
He was dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy in London in April this year after spending almost seven years holed up there to avoid extradition on the Swedish allegations. Since then, he has served a British jail sentence for skipping bail.
Reporting by Simon Johnson, Johan Ahlander and Niklas Pollard; Editing by Jon Boyle and Peter Graff