Director of Public Prosecution Marianne Ny discontinued the investigation of Julian Assange with respect to suspected sexual molestation and unlawful coercion, as these acts are now time-barred.
On13 August 2015, an incident of suspected unlawful coercion and an incident of sexual molestation will be time barred. On 18 August, an additional incident of sexual molestation will be time barred. Concurrently a suspected sexual molestation, of which Julian Assange has not been detained, will be time barred. These events took place five years ago (i.e. in August 2010).
“Julian Assange, on his own accord, has evaded prosecution by seeking refuge in the Embassy of Ecuador. As the statute of limitation has run on some of the crimes, I am compelled to discontinue the investigation with respect to these crimes. I regret having to say, that this means there will be no closure with regard to these events, as we have not been able to interview the suspect,” Director of Public Prosecution Marianne Ny declared.
An incident of suspected rape, less serious crime, will be time barred on 17 August 2020. The preliminary investigation will continue with respect to this crime. The status of the evidence is unchanged, and the possibilities to continue the investigation by interviews with the suspect are not exhausted.
“Since the autumn of 2010, I have tried to gain permission to interview Julian Assange, but he has consistently refused to appear. When the statute of limitation approached, we choose to attempt to interview him in London. A request to interview him on the premises of the Embassy of Ecuador was submitted in the beginning of June, but a permission has yet to be received. I still hope, however, that I will be able to arrange for an interview, as there are ongoing negotiations between Sweden and Ecuador,” Marianne Ny stated.
Julian Assange was detained in his absence by the Stockholm District Court on 18 November 2010. In order to execute the remand decision, the prosecutor issued a European Arrest Warrant. On 7 December of the same year, Assange was apprehended by the British police.
The issue of whether to surrender him under the European Arrest Warrant was heard in three courts in the United Kingdom. On 30 May 2012, the Supreme Court of England and Wales issued a final decision that he should be surrendered to Sweden.
On 19 June 2012, only a few days before his scheduled surrender to Sweden, Julian Assange requested political asylum in Ecuador. Ever since then, he has resided at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
In June 2014, Assange requested a review of the remand decision. On 16 July, the Stockholm District Court decided that he should be still detained, on probable cause suspected of the alleged crimes. This decision was appealed to the Court of Appeal, and finally to the Supreme Court, which affirmed the remand decision on 11 May 2015. The view of the prosecutor has been that an interview with Julian Assange should be held in Sweden, in order to ensure the quality of the interview, and because interviews of this nature commonly lead to new investigatory measures, and thereby additional interviews of the suspect.
As the date on which the crimes were to be time-barred approached, however, the prosecutor requested an interview with Assange at the Embassy of Ecuador in London. Conducting an interview requires the consent of Julian Assange, an approval by the United Kingdom of the request for legal assistance, as well as permission by Ecuador to conduct the interview at the Embassy. Assange has consented, and the United Kingdom has granted the request for legal assistance. However, the prosecutor has still not received a permission from Ecuador.
The communication between Sweden and Ecuador is handled by the Ministry of Justice. Ecuador has recently accepted a proposal from Sweden to open a direct dialogue with the purpose of exploring the possibilities of a general agreement between Sweden and Ecuador regarding mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.