Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, legal fugitive and perpetual thorn in the American government's side, has been living out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the last five years to avoid arrest for leaking classified documents to the public. Today, he escaped prosecution for a completely separate charge - that he raped and otherwise engaged in "sexual misconduct" with two women in Sweden while he was hiding out there in 2010.
Swedish prosecutors made clear that the charges were not dropped because of a lack of probably cause or evidence, but rather because extraditing Assange to Sweden was proving to be impossible, the New York Times reports.
"I can conclude, based on the evidence, that probable cause for this crime still exists," Marianne Ny, the chief prosecutor in Sweden, said at a news conference on Friday - a court-ordered deadline for prosecutors to make a decision about the case. However, she added that because Ecuador would not cooperate in serving Assange and transporting him to Sweden to face charges, her "assessment is that the transfer cannot be executed in the foreseeable future."
Speaking from the balcony of the Embassy, Assange told reporters, "While today was an important victory and important vindication, the road is far from over."
The US Justice Department is currently reconsidering whether to charge Assange for WikiLeaks, and the Metropolitan Police in London said on Friday that they would arrest him if he tried to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy on a warrant for failing to appear in court.
Many of Assange's fans believe he is the victim of a large smear campaign by the government and other nefarious forces to undermine his political credibility, and now longtime supporter M.I.A. has come to his defense, posting a lengthy diatribe on Instagram that seems to indicate she thinks he has been framed:
Assange will be a speaker at M.I.A.'s Meltdown Fest later this year in London.