Citing Swedish law that calls for criminal investigations to be conducted "as quickly as possible,” Sweden’s top prosecutor, Marianne Ny, announced on May 19 she is discontinuing the investigation.
Assange, 45, has denied the rape allegations which followed a Wikileaks conference in Stockholm in 2010 and maintains the case was a political plot to see him extradited to the U.S. over his involvement with the disclosure of vast numbers of secret cables.
Assange has been at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 when he sought asylum because he feared extradition to Sweden would lead to extradition to the U.S. In the U.S. he could face trial for leaking secret military and diplomatic documents. He is now expected to seek political asylum in France, though it’s not clear if U.S. officials are seeking his arrest and he still faces charges in London for failing to surrender to a court, an offense punishable by up to a year in prison or a fine.
At a press briefing on Friday, Ny said that remaining in London allowed Assange to evade exercising the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) that would have had him extradited to Sweden. But, "If he were to return to Sweden before the statute of limitation on this case expires in August 2020, the preliminary investigation could be resumed," she added.
She said it was "regrettable we have not been able to carry out the investigation," and added, "We are not making any pronouncement about guilt."