Swedish prosecutors drop rape probe against Assange

Mr Assange said he had spent seven years either under house arrest or living inside the embassy, without charge, as he faced sex-related allegations in Sweden, which he has always denied.

He gave a clenched fist salute to his supporters, and scores of journalists and TV crews, before maintaining that a "legal conflict" with the United States and the UK continues.

"This has gone on long enough", Long said. Juan Branco told The Associated Press in Paris that he wants Macron to help Assange leave the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

British police said before the announcement that Assange is still wanted in Britain for jumping bail. "So we don't make any statements on the issue of guilt", she said via a translator.

The sun-starved WikiLeaks provocateur, looking healthy if pale, emerged Friday afternoon to address the media in the open air of the embassy's balcony. He was on bail when he arrived at the Ecuador embassy in Central London nearly five years ago.

But British police said they would still arrest Assange if he tried to leave the embassy, saying he had breached the terms of his bail by refusing to turn himself in when an arrest warrant was issued in 2012.

Mr Assange has not set foot outside the building, ultimately fearing he could be extradited to the USA over Wikileaks' publishing of huge amounts of classified information.

The Swedish prosecutor's office said in a statement it had chose to end its investigation.

Swedish judges have refused to take into account the opinion of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which in February 2016 said Assange was effectively "arbitrarily detained" by Sweden and Britain and called for the arrest warrant to be annulled.

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Assange has spent almost five years inside the Latin American country's London embassy, but he seemed robust and defiant in his brief balcony appearance.

The statement, however, noted that Assange was "wanted for a much less serious offence" than before and said the force would "provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence".

The preliminary investigation against Julian Assange for rape (lesser degree) is to be discontinued. "My assessment is the transfer can not be carried out in a foreseeable future", Ms Ny told reporters.

November: Assange loses a legal move in a Swedish appeal court aimed at revoking his arrest warrant.

British police said despite Sweden's decision to drop a rape investigation, Assange still faces arrest if he leaves Ecuador's embassy in London.

He nonetheless called Sweden's decision to drop the rape investigation "an important victory for me and for the United Nations human rights system".

Claims of sexual assault by Assange, centring on allegations he did not wear a condom during consensual sex, led to an investigation by Sweden's chief prosecutor in 2010.

It ends a three-year police operation which is estimated to have cost more than 12 million pounds ($17 million). It is not clear if that may change now that the investigation has been dropped.

While it was known that a grand jury had been established in Virginia in relation to Assange and the Manning cables under the Obama administration, Assange's fears were validated last month when it was revealed United States authorities meant to charge Assange despite the clear violation of the First Amendment such a prosecution of a publisher would constitute.

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