Assange welcomes rape claim decision


Julian Assange speaks from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London after a seven-year investigation in Sweden against the WikiLeaks founder was suddenly dropped. Photo credit: Dominic Lipinski

Julian Assange has given a clenched-fist salute as he welcomed a Swedish decision to drop a rape investigation against him as "an important victory".

But the WikiLeaks founder says his legal fight is not over and he cannot forgive the "terrible injustice" done to him across the last seven years of his life.

Appearing on a balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on Friday the 45-year-old told supporters and a large media throng he had been detained and slandered as his children grew up without him.

"That's not something I can forgive, it's not something I can forget."

The Australian has been holed up in the embassy since mid-2012 when he sought asylum there to avoid extradition to Sweden to face accusations he raped a woman in 2010 in Stockholm.

Earlier on Friday Swedish prosecutors announced they would discontinue their investigation into the claim.

Assange, wearing a dark brown leather jacket, held his clenched fist in the air after stepping onto the small balcony below a flapping Ecuadorian flag before saying the Swedish decision was "an important victory".

But the silver-haired activist said his legal fight wasn't over and it was "extremely regretful" he was still being threatened with arrest if he leaves the embassy.

Assange faces arrest by British police on charges of skipping bail and also fears extradition to the US over WikiLeaks' publication of top secret US military and diplomatic documents.

He said he was prepared to talk to UK and US authorities about his position, despite "extremely threatening remarks" being made.

"My legal staff have contacted the United Kingdom authorities and we hope to engage in a dialogue about what is the best way forward."

Assange said the claim that the UK had the right to arrest him for seeking asylum when no charges had been laid against him was "simply untenable".

He said British authorities had also refused to confirm or deny if the US had issued a warrant for his extradition from the UK.

Assange looks set to remain in the embassy for a while yet.

For skipping bail in the UK over the Swedish accusations he could face a year in jail.

"While today was an important victory, the road is far from over," Assange said.

"The inevitable inquiry into what has occurred in this moment of terrible injustice is something that I hope will be more than just about me."

Assange, who did not take questions, said detention and extradition without charge had "become a feature of the EU" and that needed addressing.

He thanked his legal team, his supporters, the United Nations and the Ecuadorian government, which he said had stood by his asylum "in the face of intense pressure."

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention last year said Assange was in effect being arbitrarily detained in violation of international law.

© AAP 2017

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