Sweden Assange

FILE - In this Wednesday May 1, 2019 file photo, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is taken from court, where he appeared on charges of jumping British bail seven years ago, in London. The alleged rape investigation involving WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently in prison in Britain, has been discontinued, a Swedish prosecutor said Tuesday Nov. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Sweden on Tuesday dropped its investigation into an alleged rape by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently in prison in Britain, because too much time has elapsed since the accusation was made over nine years ago.

Assange, who is battling an extradition attempt by the U.S. so he can face spying charges related to his WikiLeaks work, has always denied the allegations made against him during a visit to Stockholm in August 2010.

“Nine years have gone,” Swedish prosecutor Eve-Marie Persson said. “Time is a player in this. The oral evidence has weakened as time has passed.”

Still, Persson said her statements “have been coherent, extensive and detailed.”  

Elisabeth Massi Fritz, the lawyer for the rape victim — a Swedish woman who was never identified — told Swedish broadcaster SVT that “the plaintiff’s information is supported by heavy written evidence plus verbal evidence in the form of doctors who examined the plaintiff.”

“To me that would be sufficient,” she said.

“However, the current prosecutor has done a thorough and solid job and she should be commended for that,” Massi Fritz wrote according to Swedish news agency TT.

The decision follows a ruling in June by a Swedish court that Assange should not be detained. Two months earlier, Assange was evicted from the Ecuador Embassy in London where he had been holed up for nearly seven years. He was immediately arrested and is currently serving a 50-week sentence in Britain for jumping bail in 2012.

Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, said in a tweet that the focus should now move to the “threat” that Assange has been “warning about for years: the belligerent prosecution of the United States and the threat it poses to the First Amendment.”

Swedish authorities have been investigating Assange since August 2010, when two women accused him of sexual offenses.

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