HELSINKI -- Swedish prosecutors said Thursday they have dropped three cases of sexual misconduct against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange because they have expired, but will continue to investigate accusations of rape against him.}
The Swedish Prosecution Authority said it has been unable to charge the 44-year-old Australian, who escaped a Swedish arrest warrant by taking refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London in 2012 because it had not been possible to question him.
"Since the autumn of 2010, I have tried to gain permission to interview Julian Assange, but he has consistently refused to appear," said Marianne Ny, the director of public prosecution. "I still hope, however, that I will be able to arrange for an interview, as there are ongoing negotiations between Sweden and Ecuador."
The agency says that a case of sexual molestation and one of unlawful coercion expired Thursday, while a third case, of sexual molestation, would have "time-barred on Aug. 18," but added that Assange was still wanted for questioning on allegations of rape that expire in 2020.
Assange, who has denied all accusations, was wanted for questioning by Swedish police on allegations of sexual misconduct and one of rape stemming from a 2010 visit to Stockholm.
He said in London that he was "extremely disappointed" at the Swedish prosecutor's decision to continue an investigation against him.
"There was no need for any of this. I am an innocent man," he said in a statement issued at the Ecuadorean Embassy.
Assange has said he has no intention of going to Sweden for fear of being extradited to the United States because of an ongoing investigation into WikiLeaks' dissemination of hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. documents.