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Sweden drops Julian Assange rape investigation

[JURIST] Sweden's Director of Public Prosecution, Marianne Ny, dropped [decision, PDF] the preliminary investigation of rape charges against WikiLeaks [official website] founder Julian Assange on Friday. The decision was made on the grounds that in order to continue with court proceedings, Assange would need to be physically present. Assange has been protected by asylum, living in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012 when he lost a court battle over extradition [Guardian report] to Sweden for the rape charges. He feared that extradition to Sweden would lead to extradition to the US where he is wanted for leaking thousands of classified documents. Although the UK has not commented [CNN report] as to whether it has received an extradition request from the US, a treaty [BBC report] between to the two countries would allow British authorities to arrest Assange and send him to the US. Ny did not discount [press release] the possibility of attempting to prosecute Assange in the future, saying, "If he, at a later date, makes himself available, I will be able to decide to resume the investigation immediately."

The arrest warrant against Assange was challenged [JURIST report] eight times. All of the rulings have been against Assange until now. The WikiLeaks controversy [JURIST op-ed] has also garnered much debate in the US. Last year US Army Major General Jeffery Buchanan upheld [JURIST report] Private Chelsea Manning's conviction and prison sentence for turning over classified information to WikiLeaks. In September 2013 Manning filed for a presidential pardon of the 35-year sentence [JURIST reports] she received in August. The sentence came a month after she was found guilty [JURIST report] of violating the Espionage Act but was acquitted of the more serious charge of "aiding the enemy." Manning was released [JURIST report] from military prison earlier this week after serving seven of her 35 years. President Barack Obama commuted [JURIST report] the remainder of her sentence as one of his final acts in office.

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