Two days after his ally and convicted traitor Chelsea Manning was released from U.S. prison, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange received the greatest news of his life Friday when prosecutors in Sweden announced they would be dropping their rape investigation against him.
“This is a total victory for Julian Assange,” his attorney Per E. Samuelsson told Swedish Radio, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. “He is now free to leave the embassy when he wants. We have won the Assange case. He is of course happy and relieved. He has been critical that it has lasted that long.”
Assange’s personal reaction was equally joyous, as evidenced by a tweet he posted following the announcement:
— Julian Assange (@JulianAssange) May 19, 2017
Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 so as to escape extradition to Sweden to answer for allegations that he sexually assaulted two women.
According to The New York Times, the dropping of the investigation against him does not necessarily make him really “free,” per se:
“In Britain, he still faces a warrant for failing to appear in court, and the Metropolitan Police in London said on Friday that they would arrest Mr. Assange, who has maintained his innocence, if he were to try to leave the embassy.”
There were also reports that the U.S. Department of Justice may eventually file charges against him for his repeated disclosures of highly classified U.S. intelligence.
U.K. Daily Mail: New dilemma for Trump: Will he ask the UK to extradite Julian Assange or let Wikileaks founder slip away?
The Verge: The Justice Department is reconsidering charges against Julian Assange and Wikileaks
The Washington Post: Justice Dept. debating charges against WikiLeaks members in revelations of diplomatic, CIA materials
Whether or not Assange actually intends to leave the Ecuadorian embassy remains unknown, though reports suggest he wants to relocate to Ecuador, which has reportedly granted him asylum.
“The first thing one likely needs to do is seek guarantees from the British authorities that he won’t be seized in some other way,” another one of his attorneys, Melinda Taylor, told the TT news agency, according to the New York Post.
Further complicating his situation is that British and U.S. authorities have “consistently refused to confirm or deny” if a request for his extradition exists, she added.
The fact is that far from being “free,” Assange is still in quite a pickle. It’s true that he can leave the Ecuadorian embassy if he so desires, but there’s no telling what would happen if he did.