ECUADOR’S government has said it will step up efforts to ensure Julian Assange is allowed to travel to the South American which granted him asylum in 2012, after Swedish prosecutors suddenly dropped a seven-year investigation into the WikiLeaks founder.
Marianne Ny, Sweden’s director of public prosecutions, said yesterday she had decided to “discontinue” the investigation into an alleged sex offence,.
However, it is unlikely to lead to Assange immediately leaving the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been living for almost five years.
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Scotland Yard said it remained obliged to execute a warrant issued by Westminster Magistrates’ Court for Assange’s arrest following his failure to surrender to the court in June 2012, should he leave the embassy.
Assange tweeted: “Detained for seven years without charge while my children grew up and my name was slandered.
“I do not forgive or forget.”
Asked at a Tory campaign event in Edinburgh if Britain would support a request to extradite Assange to the US, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “We look at extradition requests on a case-by-case basis.
“In relation to Julian Assange, any decision that is taken about UK action in relation to him were he to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy would be an operational matter for the police.”
Assange was questioned six months ago in the presence of Swedish officials, who faced criticism from Ecuador for the length of time it has taken to make a decision.
Eduador’s foreign minister Guillaume Long said: “Ecuador regrets that the Swedish prosecutor delayed more than four years in carrying out this interview.
“This unnecessary delay was despite the repeated insistence from the Ecuadorian government — ever since the granting of asylum in 2012 — that this interview was not only possible, but that Ecuador would facilitate its carrying out in our embassy.
“Ecuador was clear from the outset that it would co-operate fully with the Swedish justice system.
“Given that the European Arrest Warrant no longer holds, Ecuador will now be intensifying its diplomatic efforts with the UK so that Julian Assange can gain safe passage in order to enjoy his asylum in Ecuador.”
Assange believes he faces extradition to the United States for questioning over the activities of WikiLeaks if he leaves the embassy.
A letter to Swedish authorities by Ecuador’s government raised events in the US since Donald Trump’s election as President, including a speech by CIA director Mike Pompeo describing WikiLeaks as a “hostile intelligence service”.
It said recent public declarations like this were an “obvious risk” for Assange.