Sweden has formally dropped investigations into two of the sex crime allegations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, after they expired under the statute of limitations law.
There is one more allegation due to expire on August 18, while a fourth and final one will remain in force for years to come.
Assange has refused to go to Sweden for questioning, saying it could lead to him being handed over to the US, where he is wanted for his role in WikiLeaks’ mass disclosure of diplomatic cables.
Yahoo news report: Prosecutors have been investigating claims of rape and sexual assault against the Wikileaks founder that allegedly took place in August 2010.
But they have been forced to drop their pursuit of the sexual assault allegations because they are now “time barred”.
In a statement, the prosecutor said: “Julian Assange, on his own accord, has evaded prosecution by seeking refuge in the embassy of Ecuador”.
“As the statute of limitation has run on some of the crimes, I am compelled to discontinue the investigation with respect to these crimes.
“I regret having to say that this means there will be no closure with regard to these events, as we have not been able to interview the suspect.”
But Jen Robinson, who is a member of the Assange legal team, has rejected those comments and criticised the conduct of the investigation.
“Julian has not ‘evaded’ this investigation. He has continually offered his testimony and co-operation, and agreed unconditionally to being questioned in the embassy,” she said.
“The prosecutor bears the onus of progressing the investigation and she has failed to do so.”
The Swedish Prosecution Authority said it would continue to investigate claims of rape against the 44-year-old Australian. It has a further five years to do so.
Thomas Olsson, who is another member of Mr Assange’s legal team, has told Sky News he now expects a “development” in that investigation.
“Hopefully there will be some sort of development that will lead to that whole investigation (being) shutdown,” he said.
Mr Assange, who has been living in Ecuador’s London embassy since June 2012, said he was “extremely disappointed” that Swedish prosecutors never heard his full version of events.
He insists that he offered to be interviewed inside the embassy and that a suggested date in June was cancelled by the Swedish authorities.
His mother, Christine, said her son had been “cruelly” treated and denied a proper legal process.
“I can only describe the behaviour of the Swedish prosecutor as wicked, truly wicked,” she said.
“For five years she has knowingly perverted justice, causing great harm to Julian, his family and the relations between Sweden, the UK and Ecuador.
“She is the one who should be prosecuted.”
Mr Assange has not left the embassy because he fears being extradited to the United States where he could be tried for publishing secret military and diplomatic documents through his Wikileaks site.