Sweden's top prosecutor said Friday she's dropping an investigation into a rape claim against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after almost seven years because there's no possibility of arresting him "in the foreseeable future."
The announcement means the outspoken WikiLeaks leader no longer faces sex crime allegations in Sweden, although British police say he is still wanted for jumping bail in Britain in 2012.
Friday was the deadline for the Swedish prosecution to send a request to Stockholm District Court in the Assange case.
Assange, 45, took refuge in Ecuador's embassy in London in 2012 to escape extradition to Sweden to answer questions about sex-crime allegations from two women. He has been there ever since, fearing that if he was in custody he might ultimately be extradited to the United States for his role at the helm of WikiLeaks, which has published tens of thousands of leaked classified U.S. government documents.
"This is a total victory for Julian Assange. He is now free to leave the embassy when he wants. We have won the Assange case. He is of course happy and relieved. He has been critical that it has lasted that long," Per E. Samuelsson, his lawyer in Sweden, told Swedish Radio.
It is not known if U.S. officials are seeking Assange's arrest because of a possible sealed indictment. Last month President Donald Trump said he would support any decision by the Justice Department to charge Assange.
The Swedish Prosecution Authority said Friday that chief Marianne Ny "has decided to discontinue the investigation." Ny said she will call back the European arrest warrant on Assange.
Ny told reporters that the WikiLeaks founder had "tried to dodge all attempts at arrest" by British and Swedish authorities. She said prosecutors had been unable to make a full assessment of the case and were not making a finding on whether Assange was guilty of the allegations.
She said the case could be reopened if Assange returns to Sweden before the statute of limitations expires in 2020.