Assange says he is disappointed not to give his side of the story after three investigations are dropped as prosecutors run out of time to bring charges
[font='Guardian Text Sans Web', 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, 'Lucida Grande', sans-serif]WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, pictured during a press conference inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Photograph: John Stillwell/AFP/Getty Images[/font]
Swedish prosecutors have dropped their investigation into allegations of sexual assault against Julian Assange
after the deadline for bringing charges expired, but said they would continue to pursue an interview with the WikiLeaks founder over an outstanding rape allegation.
Two women made allegations against Assange five years ago in Stockholm, but no charges have been brought because the prosecutor has been unable to interrogate him after he challenged an extradition order and claimed political asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy in June 2012.
Assange, who denies the allegations, fears that travelling to Sweden
would leave him vulnerable to extradition to the US to face espionage charges. His requests to the Swedish government for a firm guarantee of his safety have been declined.
Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny said in a statement: “Julian Assange has voluntarily stayed away from justice by taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy. Now that the limitation period has passed for some of the [alleged] crimes I am forced to discontinue the preliminary investigation in these parts. This means that the investigation of the events is left unfinished because the suspect has not been heard, which I regret.”
In early June Sweden submitted a request to interrogate Assange at Ecuador’s embassy, Ny said. “It is still my hope to be able to conduct a hearing since there is an ongoing dialogue on the issue between Sweden and Ecuador.”
Assange said he was extremely disappointed in the outcome, saying the Swedish prosecutor has managed to avoid hearing his side of the story entirely.
“From the beginning I offered simple solutions,” Assange said. “Come to the embassy to take my statement or promise not to send me to the United States. This Swedish official refused both. She even refused a written statement … This is beyond incompetence.”
After a tense standoff between Sweden and Ecuador over the conditions of access to Ecuador’s London embassy, on Monday Sweden offered to open talks with Ecuador to reach a formal agreement on judicial cooperation, potentially breaking the deadlock
– but not in time to prevent the statute of limitations on most of the accusations expiring.
The statute of limitations for an allegation of unlawful coercion and one case of sexual molestation expired on Thursday; another allegation of sexual molestation expires on Tuesday. The outstanding allegation of rape expires on 17 August 2020.In a statement on Wednesday
, Assange’s supporters said: “By failing to take Assange’s statement at the embassy, Swedish authorities have deprived him of the right to answer false allegations against him that have been widely circulated in the media, but for which he has not been charged. If the case expires, that deprivation will become permanent, and no formal resolution will be available. Therefore while this particularly shambolic episode in Swedish justice may be coming to a close, the denial of Julian Assange’s liberty continues.”
Britain said on Thursday it would make a formal protest to the Ecuadorian government over its decision to provide asylum to Assange. “Ecuador must recognise that its decision to harbour Mr Assange more than three years ago has prevented the proper course of justice,” Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire said in a statement[font='Guardian Text Egyptian Web', Georgia, serif].[/font]