In a brief statement on the website of the Swedish prosecution authority, the country’s director of public prosecutions, Marianne Ny, “has today decided to discontinue the investigation regarding suspected rape (lesser degree) by Julian Assange”.
The prosecutor and her deputy, Ingrid Isgren, will speak at a media briefing later on Friday, according to the statement.
Marianne Ny filed a request to the Stockholm District Court to revoke his arrest warrant, to end the seven-year stand-off.
The famous hacker, 45, has always denied the rape allegations against him and was interviewed in the embassy in London six months ago in the presence of Swedish officials.
A second allegation of sexual assault, made by a second Swedish woman, was dropped by Swedish authorities in 2015 after the statute of limitations had expired.
Assange, has lived in the Ecuadoran embassy in London since 2012, fearing extradition to the US if sent to Sweden. Despite Sweden’s decision, he could still be detained by UK police and face extradition to the US.
Assange would probably stand trial in the US over the leaking hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic documents.
Wikileaks tweeted after the Swedish announcement to drop charges that the “focus now moves to the UK”, adding that the UK had “refused to confirm or deny whether it has already received a US extradition warrant for Julian Assange”.
But the Metropolitan police in London issued a statement confirming a warrant for the arrest of Assange following his failure to surrender to the court on 29 June 2012. It stated that the service was “obliged to execute the warrant should he leave the embassy”.
But it added: “Whilst Mr Assange was wanted on a European arrest warrant (EAW) for an extremely serious offence, the MPS response reflected the serious nature of that crime. Now that the situation has changed and the Swedish authorities have discontinued their investigation into that matter, Mr Assange remains wanted for a much less serious offence. The MPS will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence.”
The announcement 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, the Telegraph noted.
The press has gathered in front of the embassy in large numbers.
The new CIA director, Mike Pompeo, appointed by president Donald Trump. called WikiLeaks a “hostile intelligence service” recently and a threat to US national security.
The new US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, last month said Assange’s arrest was a priority. Although there are no charges against him as yet, media reports suggest that the US justice department is considering such charges.
“We’ve already begun to step up our efforts and whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail,” Sessions said.