Swedish court declines to detain Belmarsh prison resident Julian Assange

In abstentia ruling would have been first step to extradition

A Swedish court has ruled against detaining WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange or seeking his extradition over an allegation of rape.

The Swedish prosecutor said she would still seek a European Investigation Order so that she could question Assange.

The country's public prosecutors had gone to the Uppsala District Court to get a European Arrest Warrant to start extradition proceedings against Assange, currently imprisoned in the UK.

If they had obtained a ruling detaining Assange in abstentia, it would have been the initial step in an extradition procedure by the country.

The pale Aussie was cuffed in London at the Ecuadorian Embassy on 11 April for a breach of his UK bail conditions after the country revoked the asylum it had given him for nearly seven years. He had been holed up in the expensive Knightsbridge digs since 19 June 2012 – fleeing a European Arrest Warrant issued by Sweden relating to the same sexual assault investigation.

After his arrest, London's Metropolitan Police swiftly received an extradition request from the US, where he has been, separately, charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. This charge is related to his part in the 2010 release of hundreds of thousands of secret US cables, war reports and briefs after they were leaked by US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

Assange was given 22 weeks in the chokey last month, but it is seen as unlikely that he will be released from British custody while the American extradition proceedings against him go on, with the UK of the view that the bail-jumper is a flight risk.

The Australian has always maintained his innocence of the Swedish charges, and claimed he sought asylum only to avoid extradition to the United States.

Responding to the ruling read out by the judge at the local court in the coastal city, just north of Stockholm, the Swedish Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, Eva-Marie Persson, said in a statement: "I fully respect the court's decision. They had to take a position on a difficult assessment issue, which I considered should be examined by a court.

"The investigation continues with interviews in Sweden. I will also issue a European Investigation Order in order to interview Julian Assange. No date has been set yet. We will constantly review the state of the investigation." ®

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