WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has spoken on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London following Sweden's decision to drop a rape investigation against him.
While Assange described this as an "important victory", he used the opportunity to also speak about the the injustices he has experienced since he first arrived in the embassy in June 2012.
Although the 45-year-old is no longer facing action from Swedish prosecutors, he risks arrest by British police for breaching bail conditions if he tries to leave the embassy.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said that the decision to arrest Assange if he left the embassy would be "an operational matter for the police".
Assange slammed the European Union during his speech, telling reporters in central London that "the reality is detention and extradition without charge has become a feature of the European Union."
He also cited the "terrible injustices" his situation has inflicted on both himself and his family.
"Seven years without charge while my children grew up without me. That is not something I can forgive. It is not something that I can forget," he said.
"The war, the proper war, is just commencing."
Detained for 7 years without charge by while my children grew up and my name was slandered. I do not forgive or forget.— Julian Assange (@JulianAssange) May 19, 2017
Previously, Swedish authorities said that the probe against Assange was dropped because there was "no reason to believe that the decision to surrender him to Sweden can be executed in the foreseeable future".
"At this point, all possibilities to conduct the investigation are exhausted. In order to proceed with the case, Julian Assange would have to be formally notified of the criminal suspicions against him. We cannot expect to receive assistance from Ecuador regarding this. Therefore the investigation is discontinued," they said in a statement on Friday evening (AEST).
Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, as he continued to deny sexual assault allegations made against him by two women in 2010. In December, he spoke for the first time on the allegations, releasing a statement and documents as he claimed he was "entirely innocent".
Assange and his supporters feared that, if he were extradited to Sweden to face the sexual assault allegations, he would then be extradited again to the U.S. to face serious charges relating to WikiLeaks.
While Sweden has dropped its investigation of Assange, his WikiLeaks company says the United Kingdom and United States still plan to pursue him, meaning he is unlikely to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London and risk arrest. U.K police said they will arrest him if he leaves the premises, where he has been granted asylum.
UK states it will arrest Assange regardless & refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received an extradition request from the US.— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) May 19, 2017
BREAKING: UK police: Assange still wanted for jumping bail, will face arrest if he leaves Ecuadorean embassy in London.— The Associated Press (@AP) May 19, 2017
American officials have previously stated they would try a "very serious criminal investigation" against Assange and WikiLeaks for leaking large volumes of classified documents online, including those related to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Wikileaks also published leaked emails from the Democratic National Convention during the recent U.S. presidential election.
His website WikiLeaks announced the news on Twitter on Friday.
BREAKING: Sweden has dropped its case against Julian Assange and will revoke its arrest warrant— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) May 19, 2017
For his part, Assange himself posted a simple photo of himself in a relaxed pose, smiling, as news broke of the Swedish decision.
WikiLeaks claims Assange has been "detained" for six years, starting with his arrest in London in December 2010 and continuing through legal processes and his asylum at the embassy. A United Nations working group ruled last February that he had been arbitrarily detained by the United Kingdom and Sweden since his arrest, and called on the countries to end his "deprivation of liberty".
*Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that Assange was under investigation but not charged.
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