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Assange lawyer says dropped case is 'end of nightmare'

Assange lawyer says dropped case is 'end of nightmare'

The 45-year-old Australian has always denied the 2010 rape allegations, which he feared would see him extradited to the United States and tried over the leaking of hundreds of thousands of secret USA military and diplomatic documents.

The Ecuadorian government is to step up efforts to allow Mr Assange to continue his asylum in its country after Sweden's Director of Public Prosecutions Marianne Ny said she had made a decision to "discontinue" her investigation.

In a statement issued here, the Swedish Prosecution Authority said that Marianne Ny "has discontinue the investigation" against the Australian computer programmer.

Sweden has revoked a European Arrest Warrant for Assange, so British police are no longer seeking him for extradition. The U.S. has not dropped its interest in Assange, and London Metropolitan Police were quick to say they will continue to enforce an outstanding arrest warrant for him. He did not take shouted questions from the reporters assembled outside and would not say if he plans to leave the embassy located in the posh Knightsbridge neighborhood.

Friday's development follows a letter sent to the Swedish government by the government of Ecuador saying there had been a "serious failure" by the prosecutor, including a "lack of initiative" to complete inquiries.

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She told a news conference in Stockholm that the investigation could be reopened if Assange returns to Sweden before the statute of limitations lapses in 2020.

No. The investigation began after two women accused Assange of sexual offenses during a 2010 visit to Stockholm - allegations he denies.

Lawyer David Allen Green, who has followed the case, tweeted: "Once outside embassy, Assange more at risk from any US extradition attempt than if he had gone to Sweden". He was on bail when he arrived at the Ecuador Embassy in Central London nearly five years ago. Until Friday, Britain was bound to honor Sweden's extradition request before any warrant from the United States.

Britain's Crown Prosecution Service said that breach of bail is punishable by up to a year in prison or a fine.

WikiLeaks tweeted after the Swedish announcement: "UK refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received a U.S. extradition warrant for Julian Assange".

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Even in the case of Sweden, Ny clarified that "if he, at a later date, makes himself available, I will be able to decide to resume the investigation immediately".

In January, Assange said he stood by an offer to go to the United States providing his rights were upheld and if former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who was responsible for a 2010 leak of classified materials to Assange's anti-secrecy group, was freed.

Assange has indicated concerns that he may face indictment in the United States for his role at the helm of the WikiLeaks.

Dropping the investigation is not a result of deciding he is not guilty, Ny added - it's because there's no practical way to continue it. London's police service appeared to hint on Friday that arresting Assange on his remaining charge of bail jumping was not a top priority.

British police kept up a round-the-clock guard outside the embassy until December 2015, when the operation was scaled back partly because of the costs, which had exceeded 11 million pounds (over $17.5 million at the time).

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