WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange no longer is the subject of an active rape investigation in Sweden, but he remains holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London facing an unclear future because of uncertainty over whether American authorities will try to get him handed over next.
Sweden's top prosecutor dropped a long-running inquiry into a rape claim against Assange yesterday, saying there was no way to detain or charge him "in the foreseeable future" because of his protected status inside the embassy.
Prosecutor Marianne Ny said she could not judge whether the 45-year-old Australian native was guilty or innocent because the investigation had been thwarted. Ms Ny said the case could be reopened if Assange comes to Sweden before the statute of limitations expires in 2020.
British police said they would arrest Assange if he leaves the embassy on the relatively minor charge of jumping bail, but the more severe threat is a possible sealed US indictment against him.
The sun-starved WikiLeaks provocateur, looking healthy if pale, emerged overnight to address the media in the open air of the embassy's balcony. He said the day marked an "important victory," but noted that he still could be prosecuted by the United States.
Assange also lashed out at Sweden for taking seven years to investigate allegations he maintained were baseless. His children had grown up without him, he said.
"That is not something I can forgive, or forget," he said, claiming he had suffered a "terrible injustice" while living under house arrest or hidden away inside the embassy without ever being charged with a crime.
Despite the welcome news from Sweden, police in London said overnight that Assange is still wanted there for jumping bail in 2012. More serious are the possible charges he faces in the United States for WikiLeaks' aggressive publication of thousands of pages of classified government documents.
Assange said his legal team would reach out to British authorities to try to find a way forward, and he said he would be "happy" to have a dialogue with the US Department of Justice despite its threats against him.