Swedish prosecutors on Friday said they would drop a preliminary investigation into an allegation of rape against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, bringing to an end a seven-year legal stand-off.
"Chief Prosecutor Marianne Ny has today decided to discontinue the preliminary investigation regarding suspected rape concerning Julian Assange," the prosecutor's office said in a statement.
The chief prosecutor, however, did warn that the investigation could be re-opened.
"If Julian Assange were to return to Sweden before the statute of limitations, before the time lapses in August of 2020, the preliminary investigation could be opened," Ny said during a press conference.
Assange, 45, has lived in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, after taking refuge there to avoid extradition to Sweden over an allegation of rape, which he denies.
Shortly after the decision, Assange said that he will not "forgive or forget" the allegations.
Detained for 7 years without charge by while my children grew up and my name was slandered. I do not forgive or forget.
— Julian Assange (@JulianAssange) May 19, 2017
Assange still faces arrest in UK
British police said Assange would still be arrested if he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy for skipping bail.
"Westminster Magistrates' Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Julian Assange following him failing to surrender to the court on the 29 June 2012," London police said in a statement.
"The Metropolitan Police Service is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the Embassy."
The Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Guillaume Long has responded, tweeting, "The European Arrest Warrant no longer holds. The UK must now grant safe passage to Mr Julian Assange,"
1) Ecuador welcomes the decision to drop the charges against Mr Assange. This follows his November 2016 interview in Ecuador's UK Embassy
— Guillaume Long (@GuillaumeLong) May 19, 2017
The woman who accused Assange of rape has slammed the decision by Swedish prosecutors to drop an investigation, calling it a "scandal," her lawyer said Friday.
"It is a scandal that a suspected rapist can escape justice and thereby avoid the courts... my client is shocked and no decision to [end the case] can make her change that Assange exposed her to rape," the plaintiff's lawyer Elisabeth Fritz said in a statement.