Swedish prosecutors drop investigation into the allegation of rape against WikiLeaks founder on Friday. Scarlett Cvitanovich reports.
He's been holed up inside this building for the last five years and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange may not be walking out anytime soon, despite Sweden dropping its investigation into rape allegations against him on Friday (May 19). Prosecutors say they were forced to stop because it isn't possible to take the investigation further (SOUNDBITE) (Swedish) CHIEF PROSECUTOR, MARIANNE NY, SAYING: "If Julian Assange would return to Sweden before the crime's statute of limitation has run out in August 2020, the preliminary investigation can be resumed." The decision brings an end to a seven-year legal stand-off. Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London in 2012, skipping bail to avoid extradition to Sweden over the rape allegation, which he denies. He feared the Nordic country would hand him over to the United States where he would face prosecution over WikiLeaks' publication of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents. Friday's decision is being heralded as a "total victory" by Assange's defence lawyer Per Samuelson (SOUNDBITE) (English) JULIAN ASSANGE'S DEFENCE LAWYER PER SAMUELSON, SAYING: "And he's won everything in Sweden. He's a free man, there is no custody decision. From the Swedish point of view, he can leave the embassy instantly. No one stops him from Sweden any longer." However, UK police say if Assange does leave the embassy he will be arrested. Saying a warrant for the 45-year-old's arrest was issued when he failed to surrender to the court in 2012. And stating the Metropolitan Police Service is obliged to execute that warrant. A decision British Prime Minister Theresa May won't be interfering with (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, THERESA MAY, SAYING: "And in relation to Julian Assange, any decision that is taken about the UK action in relation to him, were he to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy would be an operational matter for the police." Assange himself taking to Twitter, warning he will not "forgive and forget".