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WikiLeak's Julian Assange begins fifth year cooped up at Ecuador's embassy

Supporters have scheduled events across the globe to demand Assange be released from "arbitrary detention." But Stockholm has vowed to pursue an investigation over rape allegations against him.

Julian Assange, founder and editor of whistleblowing organization WikiLeaks, on Sunday marked his fourth year as a resident at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

On June 19, 2012, Ecuador's foreign minister announced Assange had entered the embassy and applied for political asylum. Since then, the founder of WikiLeaks has lived in the diplomatic mission's building in London.

Assange is wanted by Swedish authorities for questioning over a 2010 rape allegation. The UK has repeatedly stated that it would arrest Assange in the event that he leaves the embassy.

The 44-year-old Australian national has voiced concern over Stockholm's demand that he answer Swedish prosecutors' questions in the country, fearing he could be extradited to the US on charges related to WikiLeaks' release of 500,000 secret military files.

In August, prosecutors dropped three sexual assault probes against Assange, saying the allotted five years have expired to bring charges against the WikiLeaks founder.

However, they vowed to pursue their investigation of a rape allegation, under which authorities have until 2020 to charge him.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in February issued a nonbinding legal opinion, which claimed Sweden and the UK's actions against Assange amounted to arbitrary detention.

Watch video 01:47

Assange on the UN panel's ruling

'Critical time'

Meanwhile, a "global event" is expected to take place in several cities, including Berlin, on Sunday to commemorate Assange's work and demand his release.

"We are gathering all around the world on June 19 to speak out for Julian, because he has spoken out for all of us," said Croatian philosopher Srecko Horvat, the organizer of the event "First they came for Assange."

The event "wants to stress that we live in a critical time in which everyone opposed to the political and financial powers might soon become a target," the organizers said in a statement.

American linguist Noam Chomsky, former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and Indian writer Arundhati Roy are scheduled to participate in the event.

Watch video 04:14

Risks for digital whistleblowers | DW Shift

ls/jlw (AFP, dpa)

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