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Swedish Prosecutors End Rape Investigation Into Julian Assange


Some other news we're following this morning, Swedish prosecutors are dropping the rape investigation into Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. Assange has avoided prosecution by living inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012. And for more on the story, we turn to NPR's Frank Langfitt in London. Frank, good morning.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Hey, good morning, David.

GREENE: So is this decision a big deal?

LANGFITT: It is a big deal. This has been going on for years, going back all the way, actually, to I think 2010, when they began investigating this case against Julian Assange. And he's been holed up in the embassy for nearly five years, basically hiding. And there's been this deadlock for a long time. So now - they're actually just on the air now, in Sweden, explaining why they're doing this. And it - I'm not 100 percent sure, but it seems that it's become just very difficult for them to continue the case since they can't really get direct access to Assange and learn a lot more. So this is a big change, and the question is, what does Assange do next?

GREENE: Well, and one of the other questions as well, when it comes to what he does next, is all of these allegations from the United States. I mean, he's wanted for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret diplomatic and military documents. I mean, does - could this mean that he's out of the woods on that stuff?

LANGFITT: Well, no, not really - I mean, the United States has not dropped its interest in Julian Assange. And the other thing that was very interesting is just after this news came out of Sweden this morning, the London Metropolitan Police said, we're not quite finished with Mr. Assange yet. He basically skipped bail a number of years ago when he hid out in Ecuador. And they say, of course, this is a far less serious offense than the rape charges that he was looking at in Sweden but that they haven't forgotten this and that they still have a warrant for his arrest.

We don't know how serious they are about this. And they've been very vague in their note. One concern might be for Mr. Assange that were he to walk out today or tomorrow or the next day, he could be picked up by the London Metropolitan Police on a warrant. And of course, the United Kingdom and the United States have very close relationship.

GREENE: So then...

LANGFITT: There might be concern that he could be extradited.

GREENE: To the United States, if that were to happen.

LANGFITT: Exactly.

GREENE: Has Assange said anything since this news?

LANGFITT: Not that I've seen. I did go on Twitter, and he did post a picture of himself grinning...


LANGFITT: ...And smiling. But that's about it so far - nothing verbally from him.

GREENE: All right. That is NPR's Frank Langfitt reporting in London on news that Swedish prosecutors are dropping their rape investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Frank, thanks.

LANGFITT: Happy to do it, David.

(SOUNDBITE OF BLOCKHEAD'S, "CARNIVORES UNITE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Frank Langfitt is NPR's London correspondent. He covers the UK and Ireland, as well as stories elsewhere in Europe.