STOCKHOLM, May 19 — Here are key dates in the legal saga of Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who had a rape investigation against him in Sweden dropped by prosecutors today.
Arrest warrant issued — November 18, 2010:
A Swedish prosecutor issues a European arrest warrant for Assange on sexual assault allegations involving two Swedish women. Assange denies the claims, saying the young women consented.
WikiLeaks starts releasing more than 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables, revealing often frank assessments of US officials as well as the views of other governments.
Some 500,000 classified military documents concerning American diplomacy and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had already been released by Wikileaks in July and October, 2010, respectively.
December 7, 2010:
Assange turns himself in to police in London and is placed in custody pending a ruling on the Swedish extradition request. He is later released on bail and calls the Swedish rape allegations a smear campaign.
February 24, 2011:
A British judge rules that Assange can be extradited to Sweden. In November Britain’s High Court rejects an appeal against his extradition. Assange fears Sweden will hand him over to US authorities who could prosecute him for publishing the documents and possibly sentence him to death.
Seeks refuge at embassy — June 19, 2012:
Assange requests, and is later granted political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
October 25, 2013:
Ecuador demands that Britain allows Assange to fly to Quito.
July 16, 2014:
A Swedish court upholds the European arrest warrant against Assange.
November 20, 2014:
Assange loses an appeal against the arrest warrant.
UN appeal — September 12, 2014:
Assange files a complaint against Sweden and Britain with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
February 25, 2015:
Assange’s lawyers petition Sweden’s Supreme Court to quash the arrest warrant.
March 13, 2015:
Swedish prosecutors offer to question Assange in London. Quito demands that an Ecuadorian prosecutor do the questioning. That takes place on November 14-15, in the presence of a Swedish prosecutor.
February 5, 2016:
The UN panel confirms its view that Assange has been “arbitrarily detained,” saying he should be able to claim compensation from Britain and Sweden over his time in the embassy. Assange makes a rare public appearance on an embassy balcony. Britain immediately rejects the ruling and files a challenge that is rebuffed in late November.
September 16, 2016:
The Stockholm appeals court rejects a request by Assange to lift the arrest warrant in light of the UN panel’s non-binding legal opinion.
Beginning of the end? — January 17, 2017:
WikiLeaks claims “victory” after then US president Barack Obama commutes the sentence of Chelsea Manning, a soldier who leaked a huge amount of defence department files published by WikiLeaks, and who is released on May 17.
May 19, 2017:
Swedish prosecutors say they have closed their seven-year rape investigation. In London, police say they are “obliged” to arrest Assange if he leaves the embassy, for breaching the terms of his bail in 2012. — AFP