The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has insisted Julian Assange will still be arrested if he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy despite the imminent cancellation of a European Arrest Warrant (EAW).
Case closed: Julian Assange tweeted
this image in response to the
On Friday morning (May 19), Director of Public Prosecution in Sweden Marianne Ny confirmed the investigation into the Wikileaks founder regarding suspected rape has been discontinued.
A warrant for Mr Assange’s arrest for failing to surrender to the UK courts is still active, and the MPS said it is “obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the Embassy”.
Mr Assange has lived in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 over fears he may be extradited to the US if sent to Sweden.
He could face trial in the US after leaking thousands of secret military and diplomatic documents on Wikileaks.
Wikileaks tweeted: “focus now moves to the UK", saying the UK had "refused to confirm or deny whether it has already received a US extradition warrant for Julian Assange".
A MPS spokesperson said: “Whilst Mr Assange was wanted on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for an extremely serious offence, the MPS response reflected the serious nature of that crime.
“Now that the situation has changed and the Swedish authorities have discontinued their investigation into that matter, Mr Assange remains wanted for a much less serious offence. The MPS will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence.
“The MPS will not comment further on the operational plan.
“The priority for the MPS must continue to be arresting those who are currently wanted in the Capital in connection with serious violent or sexual offences for the protection of Londoners.”
The EAW against Mr Assange was upheld by the UK courts, and found that his extradition to Sweden would be entirely lawful.
However, the warrant is now expected to be formally withdrawn on Friday.
Ms Ny and her deputy Ingrid Isgren, will also give their reasons for dropping the case against Mr Assange in a press conference on Friday afternoon.