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Sweden drops rape charges against Julian Assange

By Clyde Hughes
Sweden drops rape charges against Julian Assange
Assange has been held in a British prison since he was removed from London's Ecuadorian Embassy in April. File Photo by Bianca de Marchi/EPA-EFE

Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Swedish prosecutors dropped rape charges against WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange on Tuesday, which were refiled last spring after he was arrested and removed from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

The original charges were filed in 2010 and led Assange to claim asylum at the embassy for seven years.

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Eva-Marie Persson, Sweden's deputy director of public prosecutions, told reporters in Stockholm Tuesday that supporting witness statements in the case have been weakened by time -- although she does consider the accuser "credible."

"Her statements have been coherent, extensive and detailed; however, my overall assessment is that the evidential situation has been weakened to such an extent that there is no longer any reason to continue the investigation," Persson said.

Assange has been in a British prison his arrest and removal from the embassy in April. He is awaiting a hearing on extradition to the United States, where he's accused of hacking. He has long denied the rape accusations.

"Sweden has dropped its preliminary investigation into Mr. Assange for the third time, after reopening it without any new evidence or information," WikiLeaks Editor Kristinn Hrafnsson said. "Let us now focus on the threat Mr. Assange has been warning about for years: The belligerent prosecution of the United States and the threat it poses to the First Amendment."

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Assange is accused of working with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak hundreds of thousands of pages of classified information, including the names of U.S. operatives.

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