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As Pressure Builds, Sweden Drops Assange Rape Case

With WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange still being held in a British jail his facing a US attempt to extradite him to face Espionage Act charges, Sweden abruptly dropped a nine-year-old rape charge against him.
Officials said the case was abandoned because too much time has elapsed since he was accused. His supporters had long claimed charges were trumped up as way to get him into US hands after his site revealed state secrets.
Assange has always denied the allegations made against him during a visit to Stockholm in August 2010. “Nine years have gone,” Swedish prosecutor Eve-Marie Persson said. “Time is a player in this. The oral evidence has weakened as time has passed.”
Though the alleged victim “submitted a credible and reliable version of events,” Persson said “the memory fades for natural reasons,” contradicting the prosecutor’s assertion that statements by the woman who made the accusation “have been coherent, extensive and detailed.”
Elisabeth Massi Fritz, the lawyer for the rape victim — a Swedish woman who was never identified — told Swedish broadcaster SVT that “the plaintiff’s information is supported by heavy written evidence plus verbal evidence in the form of doctors who examined the plaintiff.”
“To me that would be sufficient,” she said, without adding why the case was dropped if it was so solid and as she commended the prosecutor, said Swedish news agency TT.
A spokesman for Assange’s legal team said: “From the outset of Sweden’s preliminary investigation, Julian Assange’s expressed concern has been that waiting in the wings was a United States extradition request that would be unstoppable from Sweden – and result in his spending the rest of his life in a US prison.
In June, a Swedish court said Assange shouldn’t be detained, two months after British police had been allowed into the Ecuadorian embassy in London. His arrest followed the Ecuadorian government revoking asylum he had been given, allowing him to stay there for seven years.
He is currently serving a 50-week sentence in Britain for jumping bail in 2012. Family, friends and supporters have mounted a relentless social media campaign in his behalf and the United Nation’s rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, earlier said Assange was showing signs of physical torture.
Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief, tweeted that the focus should now move to the “threat” that Assange has been “warning about for years: the belligerent prosecution of the United States and the threat it poses to the First Amendment.”
Assange, an Australian who is not being supported by his country’s government, faces an 18-count indictment in the US accusing him of soliciting and publishing classified information and conspiring with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to crack a Defense Department computer password.

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