Assange will continue battle to clear his name

The WikiLeaks founder says his lawyers contacted British authorities in the hope of starting a dialogue over his future. This, after UK police says he would be arrested if he leaves the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London, Britain, May 19, 2017.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Friday said the battle to clear his name will go on even after the dropping of rape charges against him by Swedish prosecutors.

Appearing on the balcony of the Ecuador Embassy in central London, where he has spent the last five years, Assange said "today is an important victory for me" and for UN human rights.

Assange said his lawyers had contacted British authorities in the hope of starting a "dialogue" over his future, after UK police said they would be "obliged" to execute an arrest warrant against him if he left the embassy.

Assange would be arrested for breaching bail conditions by failing to hand himself in for extradition to Sweden in 2012 and instead fleeing to the embassy where he obtained political asylum.

"The road is far from over. The war, the proper war, is just commencing," a pale-looking Assange told a crowd of reporters and a handful of supporters brandishing placards assembled under the balcony.

He promised that WikiLeaks would continue its "fight" for government transparency and digital rights.

Assange also voiced bitterness about the Swedish allegations against him, which date back to 2010.

"In prison, under house arrest and almost five years here in this embassy without sunlight!" he said.

"Seven years without charge while my children grew up without me. That is not something I can forgive. It is not something I can forget."

Swedish prosecutors earlier in the day dropped their investigation into Assange over a rape allegation, but British police said he would still be arrested if he left the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Assange, 45, took refuge in the embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden after two women made rape and sexual molestation allegations against him, which he denies.

He feared Sweden would hand him over to the United States to face prosecution over WikiLeaks' publication of swathes of classified military and diplomatic documents in one of the largest information leaks in US history.

TRT World's Sarah Morice reports from London.

Safe exit

Ecuador's government asked the United Kingdom on Friday to give Assange safe passage in order to allow him asylum in the South American nation.

British Prime Minister said it would be for police to decide if Assange should be arrested if he leaves the embassy.

Asked if she would support Britain extraditing Assange to the United States, British Prime Minister May replied: "We look at extradition requests when we receive them on a case by case basis.”

TRTWorld and agencies