STOCKHOLM, Sweden - After pursuing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for nearly a decade, Sweden on Monday abandoned its investigation of him, revealing it does not have enough evidence to put him on trial.
Having caused Assange to go into exile at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for years, and then to be incarcerated in a London prison with the United States trying desperately to get him extradited to the states, Sweden has now extinguished the charges against him.
Long-considered a political case, Assange has paid a shocking price and continues to do so as the U.S. extradition proceedings continue to play out in a London court.
Despite the case against him being dropped, the UK has jailed Assange for jumping bail by going into exile. And now he has the extradition hearings to contend with.
The announcement of the discontinuance of the investigation on Monday was made by Sweden's Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Eva-Marie Persson.
She said the reason for the decision was that the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question.
The preliminary investigation concerning allegations against Assange was revived on 13 May 2019 after Assange left the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The investigation related to an alleged rape in August 2010. A number of investigative measures have been conducted since May, largely in the form of witness interviews.
'The preliminary investigation has now been discontinued, the motive for which is that the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question,' according to a statement released on Monday by the Swedish Prosecution Authority.
"I would like to emphasise that the injured party has submitted a credible and reliable version of events. Her statements have been coherent, extensive and detailed; however, my overall assessment is that the evidential situation has been weakened to such an extent that that there is no longer any reason to continue the investigation," Eva-Marie Persson, Seden's Deputy Director of Public Prosecution said Monday.
Monday's discontinuance is the second time a public prosecutor in Sweden has walked away from investigating the sexual assault claims.
In 2010, Assange travelled to the United Kingdom, where he was issued with an arrest warrant on behalf of Sweden. He faced extradition to Sweden, but said he believed if extradited Swedish authorities would in turn extradite him to the United States. The U.S. advised it was not seeking extradition of Assange, a statement later found to be false. Assange did not believe the U.S., and instead applied for asylum with Ecuador, and took up residency at the Ecuadorian embassy on 19 June 2012. He remained there until 11 April 2019 when Ecuador revoked his citizenship and allowed UK police to drag him from the embassy. He then faced court for jumping bail and was imprisoned for a year. Immediately the U.S. started proceedings to have him extradited.
Meantime in the United States, Chelsea Manning remains in prison because she is unwilling to testify against Assange. The pair co-operated, together with publications such as The New York Times and The Guardian, in the publishing of numerous military files and diplomatic cables Manning downloaded from Pentagon servers. She was sent to prison for contempt of court, this after her sentence was commuted from 35 years to seven years by former President Barack Obama before he left office.
Manning was release earlier this year but then re-jailed when she vowed she would prefer to starve to death than co-operate with the Grand Jury charging Assange.
Following are the various steps the Swedish prosecutor, in conjunction with British authorities, has taken over the past nine years, all of which have culminated in the abandonment of the investigation into him:
20 August 2010
The duty prosecutor orders the arrest of Julian Assange.
21 August 2010
The case is transferred to a prosecutor at City Public Prosecution Office in Stockholm.
25 August 2010
The prosecutor takes a decision to terminate the preliminary investigation concerning suspected rape.
27 August 2010
Lawyer Claes Borgstrom, legal representative of the women who reported Julian Assange, requests a review of the prosecutor's decision to terminate the preliminary investigation concerning rape. The review request is sent to the Prosecution Development Centre in Gothenburg.
1 September 2010
Marianne Ny, Director of Public Prosecution, takes a decision to resume the preliminary investigation concerning the suspected rape.
The investigation is underway.
27 September 2010
Julian Assange is arrested in his absence.
18 November 2010
Marianne Ny orders the detention of Julian Assange, with probable cause, suspected of rape, three cases of sexual molestation and illegal coercion. This measure is taken as it has been impossible to interview him during the investigation.
Stockholm District Court takes a decision to detain Julian Assange in accordance with the Prosecutor's request.
In order to execute this decision, the Prosecutor takes a decision to issue an international warrant for the arrest of Julian Assange, a European Arrest Warrant.
22 November 2010
Julian Assange appeals the issue of the District Court arrest warrant to Svea Court of Appeal.
24 November 2010
Svea Court of Appeal refuses the appeal and takes a decision that the arrest warrant is to remain in place, with probable cause, on suspicion of rape (less serious crime), unlawful coercion and two cases of sexual molestation.
The international request and the European Arrest Warrant are confirmed in accordance with the decision of the District Court.
30 November 2010
Julian Assange appeals the arrest warrant issued by Svea Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court.
2 December 2010
The Supreme Court takes a decision not to grant Julian Assange leave to appeal. The decision of the Svea Court of Appeal stands.
On the request of the British police, additional information is added to the European Arrest Warrant concerning the maximum penalty in Sweden for the crimes of sexual molestation and unlawful coercion.
7 december 2010
Julian Assange is arrested by British police.
16 December 2010
At a hearing on detention at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, the Court decides that Julian Assange should be granted bail.
7-8 February 2011
Hearing in London concerning surrender according to the European Arrest Warrant.
24 February 2011
The City of Westminster Magistrates' Court makes a decision to grant the request for surrender of Julian Assange to Sweden.
Assange appeals the court's decision.
12-13 July 2011
Hearing in High Court in London concerning surrender according to the European Arrest Warrant.
2 November 2011
The High Court dismisses the appeal by Julian Assange against his extradition to Sweden.
5 December 2011
The Court grants Assange the right, within 2 weeks, to request leave to appeal to the UK Supreme Court.
16 December 2011
The Supreme Court grants Mr. Assange leave to appeal. The Court will sit on 1 and 2 February 2012.
1-2 February 2012
Hearing in the Supreme Court of Great Britain concerning whether a prosecutor can be considered to have the legal authority to issue a European Arrest Warrant.
30 May 2012
The Supreme Court decides to uphold and grant the request to surrender Julian Assange to Sweden. The Court grants the defence 14 days to make an application to re-open the appeal.
12 June 2012
Assange requests the Supreme Court appeal to be re-opened.
14 June 2012
The Supreme Court dismisses the application to re-open the appeal. The Court also orders that the period for extradition shall not begin for 14 days.
19 June 2012
Assange seeks political asylum at the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
16 August 2012
Ecuador grants Assange asylum.
Swedish proceedings 2014 - 2017
24 June 2014
Assange requests Stockholm District Court to review the detention order.
16 July 2014
Stockholm District Court decides that Julian Assange is to remain detained.
12 September 2014
Assange appeals the ruling of the District Court regarding the detention.
23 September 2014
The prosecutors present a written comment over the appeal.
27 October 2014
New written comment from the prosecutors to the Svea Court of Appeal.The prosecutors still contest that the Court of Appeal should annul the detention of Julian Assange.
10 November 2014
The defense councils present a written comment over the prosecutors latest official letter.
20 November 2014
The Svea Court of Appeal decides that Julian Assange will still be detained in his absence.
8 December 2014
Assange appeals the decision from the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court.
10 March 2015
The Supreme Court requests the Prosecutor-General's opinion concerning the detention.
13 March 2015
The prosecutors request Assange's consent to interview him in London.
24 March 2015
The Prosecutor-General submits a letter of response concerning the detention of Julian Assange to the Supreme Court.
16 April 2015
Assange consents, with some reservations, to be interviewed.
17 April 2015
The prosecutors ask Assange for clarifications.
11 May 2015
The Supreme Court decides that Julian Assange will still be detained in his absence.
29 May 2015
The prosecutors request legal assistance from the Ministry of Justice, to be able to interview Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The request is submitted by electronic mail to the Division for Criminal Cases and International Judicial Co-operation at the Ministry of Justice (BIRS).
1 June 2015
The prosecutors send the signed request for legal assistance by post. BIRS legalizes and translates the request, which is thereafter submitted to Ecuador.
16-17 June 2015
The assistant prosecutor, Chief prosecutor Ingrid Isgren, travels to London with the ambition to interview Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy. However, no permission is given and the interview cannot be performed.
13 August 2015
Investigation concerning Julian Assange discontinued in part
22 december 2015
A renewed request is submitted to Ecuador concerning permission to interview Julian Assange at Ecuador's embassy in London.
In a reply, the Prosecutor-General of Ecuador has rejected, on formal grounds, the Swedish prosecutor's request to interview Assange in London, as it refers to the request that was sent 29 May 2015.
22 February 2016
Assange requests Stockholm District Court to review the detention order.
8 March 2016
A renewed request is submitted to Ecuador, via the Swedish Ministry of Justice, concerning permission to interview Julian Assange at Ecuador's embassy in London.
23-30 March 2016
Assange's lawyers complement the request to review the detention order.
30 March 2016
Stockholm District Court requests the prosecutors' opinion concerning the detention.
13 April 2016
The prosecutors have presented a written statement to the Stockholm District Court concerning the detention of Julian Assange. Assange's lawyers have requested the Court to annul the detention order, which the prosecutors contest.
17 May 2016
The prosecutors have presented a written statement to the Stockholm District Court, concerning the detention of Julian Assange. 9 May Assange's lawyers requested the Court to annul the detention order, which the prosecutors contest.
25 May 2016
The Stockholm District Court decides that Julian Assange will still be detained in his absence.
8 August 2016
The Prosecutor-General of Ecuador informs that Ecuador accepts the prosecutors' request to interview Julian Assange at Ecuador's embassy in London.
9 August 2016
Julian Assange appeals the ruling of the District Court regarding the detention.
12 September 2016
The Court of Appeal will issue a decision in the case at 11.00 am on 16 September 2016.
14 September 2016
The General State Prosecutor of Ecuador informs that Julian Assange will be interviewed at the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Monday 17 October.
16 September 2016
The Court of Appeal decides that Julian Assange will still be detained in his absence.
13 October 2016
The General State Prosecutor of Ecuador informs that the interview with Julian Assange has been delayed until 14 November. The interview has been postponed to make it possible for Assange's lawyer to attend.
14-15 November 2016
Julian Assange was interviewed at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The interview was conducted by an Ecuadorian prosecutor.The results of the interview will later be reported from Ecuador to the Swedish prosecutors in a written statement.
5 January 2017
Ecuadorian authorities have submitted a written report of the interview with Assange. The report will now be translated.
15 March 2017
The prosecutors have received the greater part of the translation of the interview with Julian Assange from November.
3 May 2017
Assange's lawyers have requested the Stockholm District Court to review the detention order.
4 May 2017
The Stockholm District Court requests the prosecutors' opinion concerning the detention. An answer should be presented 17 May at the latest.
19 May 2017
Director of Public Prosecution, Ms Marianne Ny, has today decided to discontinue the investigation regarding suspected rape (lesser degree) by Julian Assange.
11 April 2019
After media reports that Julian Assange has been arrested in London, the counsel for the injured party has requested the Swedish preliminary investigation concerning rape be resumed.
13 May 2019
Preliminary investigation in the Assange case to be reopened.
20 May 2019
Request for detention of Julian Assange.
3 June 2019
Remand hearing in the Uppsala District Court. The court decides not to detain Julian Assange.
20 June 2019
The prosecutor decides not to appeal the decision from Uppsala District Court.
19 November 2019
The Investigation Against Julian Assange is Discontinued.