Europe & UK

November 20, 2019

Sweden Drops Rape Probe Against Wikileaks Founder As Assange Appears In UK Court Via Video Link From Prison

[ By Bobby Anthony ]


Sweden has dropped its investigation into an alleged rape committed by WikiLeaks founder, whistleblower and publisher Julian Assange, who is currently in a prison in the United Kingdom.

Assange, who is battling extradition to the United States which has accused him of publishing secret documents on the WikiLeaks website, had faced charges in Sweden since 2010.

The latest decision follows a ruling in June by a Swedish court that Assange should not be detained.

It may be recalled that two months ago, Assange was evicted from the Ecuador Embassy in London where he had been holed up since 2012. He was immediately arrested by the UK police and is presently serving a 50-week sentence in the UK for jumping bail in 2012.

Commenting on the latest development, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson has tweeted that the focus should now move onto the “threat” about which Assange has been “warning about for years”, namely the threat posed to the First Amendment of the United States constitution”.

The First Amendment of the US constitution states that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances”.

Incidentally, Assange has been charged with WikiLeaks’ publications of ‘Vault 7’, which is a collection of thousands of documents about an alleged cyber-surveillance program by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) capable of compromising cellphones, smart TVs and computers with internet access produced by US companies, transforming them into microphones to spy on their users.

Assange still faces extradition to the United States, where he is being accused of conspiring to hack a classified Pentagon computer.

Meanwhile, Julian Assange's father John Shipton attended a London court recently to see his son appear via a video link from high-security Belmarsh prison in the UK.

A court hearing was held at Westminster Magistrates Court recently ahead of what it expected to be a long-running extradition battle to get for Wikileaks founder to the U.S.

He was set to be released from the high-security prison in September but was remanded in custody due to fears that he would abscond after he spent nearly seven years in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

District Judge Baraitser remanded Assange in custody ahead of a substantive case management hearing on December 19.

Assange will appear again at Westminster Magistrates' Court on December 13 to confirm his remand in prison again before he ultimately appears for full extradition proceedings in February 2020.

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