“I do not forgive or forget.”
Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy
Sweden’s chief prosecutor Marianne Ny told a news conference in Sweden that the decision to discontinue the preliminary investigation into the rape allegations, which date back to 2010, had been made because “all possibilities to advance the investigation have now been exhausted.”
The founder of WikiLeaks, and an Australian citizen, Assange walked into the Ecuadoran embassy in London on June 19, 2012, and has never left. He sought and was granted political asylum by Ecuador.
Assange made himself an enemy of many governments by publishing, through WikiLeaks, massive amounts of confidential and even classified material leaked to him. Most notable among the information – and that which made WikiLeaks so widely known – was information turned over by Bradley Manning.* In 2010, Bradley Manning, who later changed to Chelsea Manning, submitted over 700,000 secret government files to WikiLeaks, files Manning had access to as a U.S. Army intelligence analyst in Iraq.
The files included a video taken during an American helicopter attack in Baghdad in 2007 in which civilians were killed, including two journalists. Also in the information leak were 250,000 diplomatic cables, and documents revealing “the abuse of detainees by Iraqi officers under the watch of American forces,” which “showed that civilian deaths during the Iraq war were most likely significantly higher than official estimates.”
The government of the United States was incensed over the leaks, and Assange expected to be targeted as a result. Assange was, at the time, under investigation for suspicion of rape in Sweden. The charges, which Assange has always denied, were first brought in August 2010. Assange believed the U.S. was using the allegations to try and have him sent to Sweden and then to the United States, where officials could punish him for revealing government secrets. The Ecuadorans agreed, and their statement coinciding with the asylum grant said:
Accordingly, the Ecuadorian Government considers that these arguments back up Julian Assange’s fears, thus he can be a victim of political persecution, as a consequence of his determined defense to freedom of expression and freedom of press, as well as his position of condemn to the abuses that the power infers in different countries, aspects that make Mr. Assange think that, in any given moment, a situation may come where his life, safety or personal integrity will be in danger. This fear has leaded him to exercise his human right of seeking and receiving asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador in the United Kingdom.
The end of the rape investigation is far from the end of Assange’s interaction with authorities, however. He is still subject to arrest in the U.K. for violating bail and other offenses pursuant to his avoiding extradition to Sweden. The United States has presumably asked the U.K. to arrest and extradite him if the Brits can take Assange into custody. For now, he remains in London at the Ecuadorian embassy, a refugee from the great powers of the world who want to punish him for revealing their secrets.
*Manning was released from prison earlier this week under an order President Obama signed commuting Manning’s sentence just before leaving office.
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