Sweden no longer plans to seek Assange's extradition, he hails victory

By Chris Peterson in London | | Updated: 2017-05-20 01:21

Sweden no longer plans to seek Assange's extradition, he hails victory

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks on the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London, Britain, May 19, 2017. [Photo by Wang Bo/] 

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange hailed the Swedish prosecutors'decision to close their investigation of rape allegations against him, and not seek his extradition, as a victory, although he indicated he would not yet be leaving the Ecuadorean embassy, who he has been claiming asylum.

Hours after the Swedish announcement, Assange indicated he would not leave the embassy yet as what he called "dialogue" between his lawyers and the US and UK authorities would continue. "The war is just commencing," he said.

"The legal dialogue with the US and UK continues," he told a packed crowd of reporters and onlookers in an address from the balcony. "The road is far from over," he added.

"The claim by the UK that it has a right to arrest me for seeking asylum in a case where there have been no charges is simply untenable."

Assange told reporters that for seven years of his life, first two under house arrest in the UK and then latterly seeking asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy, meant he had been deprived of seeing his children grown up, saying he had been the victim of a "terrible injustice."

"I cannot forgive or forget. I would like to thank the UN human rights system and the Ecuadorean people and government who have stood by me in my asylum request.

Assange, an Australian citizen, is accused of jumping jumped bail before he was due to appear before an English court to answer the European arrest warrant, and sought asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy, where he has been holed up for nearly five years, "without sunlight" as he put it.

He has consistently claimed that if he was sent to Sweden, the US authorities would step in and have him extradited over what they claim is his role in the release of over 20,000 classified documents by former intelligent analyst Chelsea Manning, a US solder sentenced to 45 years in jail but who was pardoned by President Barack Obama after serving seven years and released earlier this week.

Assange today hailed Manning’s release as a victory for Wikileaks.

Manning is a transgender person formerly known as Bradley Manning who now prefers to be addressed and seen as a woman.

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