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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange welcomes the news that Sweden
is dropping its investigation into an alleged rape -
and its attempt to extradite him from the UK:
Seven years without charge, why my children grew up without me. That is
not something that I can forgive. It is not something that I can forget.
But he's not giving up his refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy -
we'll ask 'what next for the man the CIA effectively runs a 'hostile
Donald Trump is about to set off on his first overseas
trip as President - we'll look at what's waiting for him
leaders and leaders from across the Arab and Islamic world are waiting
to greet the American President, his first stop on his very first foreign
tour. Voting is extended in
Iran's Presidential election - as polling stations struggle to cope
with an unexpectedly high turn out. closer to stepping down, the
Japanese Cabinet gives its backing to the emperor's desire to abdicate.
Hello and welcome to World News Today.
The founder of the wikileaks website, Julian Assange,
has greeted as a "victory" the news that Swedish prosecutors
are ending their investigation into claims he carried out
Speaking from the Ecuadorian embassy in London -
where he's taken refuge since 2012 - he said he would not be leaving it,
because he could still be arrested by UK police.
He also insisted that his Wikileaks group would continue with its work.
On the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy
Julian Assange emerged this afternoon to have his say on the end
of the Swedish investigation against him.
Today is an important victory for me and for the UN human rights system.
Seven years without charge while my children grew up without me.
That is not something that I can forgive,
it is not something that I can forget.
But prosecutors in Sweden have not cleared Julian Assange,
they have simply said they can't pursue the case any further.
TRANSLATION: There are now no further measures
remaining which are possible to advance the investigation.
In order to proceed, it would be necessary
for Julian Assange to be formally served notice of the crimes
This was a measure that was to have been conducted during an interview
in London, but Mr Assange refused to make this possible.
This complex international drama began in August 2010 when two
women alleged that Julian Assange had sexually assaulted them
In December that year he was detained in Britain under
In May 2012 the Supreme Court upheld a decision to extradite him
And in June Mr Assange walked into the Ecuadorian Embassy in London
The Metropolitan Police mounted a 24-hour guard at the embassy.
By October 2015 it had cost over ?30 million.
Julian Assange is no longer wanted on an international
arrest warrant but the Metropolitan Police say that if he stepped out
of the embassy they are still obliged to arrest him
for failing to surrender to a London court back in 2012.
At the embassy this evening his supporters were jubilant.
But in Sweden, the woman who accused him of
rape issued a statement saying he was evading justice,
and expressing her shock that the investigation
Julian Assange was not held without charge with for seven years.
He was subject to extradition proceedings with in the EU,
under the European arrest warrant scheme he would have received a fair
trial in Sweden had he chosen to go back.
The reason this has lasted seven years is entirely down to him
seeking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy rather than going to face
trial in a country that has governed by the rule of law.
The founder of Wikileaks says it was fear that he
would be extradited to the United States for leaking
classified information that drove him through
So despite today's dramatic twist in this long-running diplomatic and
legal saga, tonight he is back inside.
President Trump is due to take off any moment now
on the first foreign trip of his presidency.
It's ambitious - four countries in eight days -
Whilst there he will meet King Salman and attend
a summit of Arab and Muslim leaders in Riyadh.
It's been quite a week at home for the President,
so the shift from domestic controversies to his foreign policy
Here are some pictures of Saint Andrews Air Force Base. They are
live pictures, this is the facility in Maryland from which President
chump will depart. His nine-day trip include Saudi Arabia, Israel and the
Vatican -- President Trump. Our Chief International
Correspondent Lyse Doucet is live from the Saudi Capital,
Riyadh. It is good to see you. This is an
ambitious trip, what will his message be in Riyadh? Well the
rumours were swirling in the region that President Trump has been
facing, extreme pressure at home over alleged mishandling over
intelligence and could end up cancelling his trip to Riyadh and
his next stop in Israel. We all knew that this trip matters a lot to
President Trump and it certainly matters to the Saudi kingdom. It
will only be hours before the American President makes Riyadh his
first stop on his very first foreign visit. This is a city under tight
security and a city that is pulling out
all the stops to make this a visit like no other. Everywhere you go in
Riyadh, you see the slogan, together we will prevail. A summit, they say
like no other in history. This place is full of superlatives, it is three
summits, and the team with Royal rulers, leaders from the Gulf region
and leaders from across the Arab and Islamic world and for Saudi Arabian
leaders, it is all about turning the page on what they saw as an
infuriating relationship with President Obama and what they saw as
his retreat from the Middle East. They have hailed President Trump
from the start and when I spoke to the Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister,
I put it to him that it was a bit of a diplomatic coup to claim the first
visit. We believe it is a coup for the world and a coup for peace and
coexistence. This is a very powerful message that America and the West is
not your enemy, it is a powerful message to the west that Islam is
not your enemy. This visit will change the discourse and the
dialogue between the Islamic world and the West in general and for the
West in particular, if will isolate the extremist, whether it is Iran or
Isis or Al-Qaeda who say that the West is our enemy. It will also push
back against those in the West to say that Islam is our enemy. This is
a truly historic occasion. Will this help overcome the suspicions and
anger over the travel ban which was widely described as a Muslim man? I
do not believe... I think the stories about the anger work
exaggerated. Many were angry, but cant -- countries that were on that
list, it was seen as a Muslim ban. We cannot question the right of the
United States or any country to decide who to let in or not let in.
We cannot see any measures as being biased against a particular group of
religion. Islam is part and parcel of the American social fabric, there
are millions of Muslims living in America and most of the Islamic
countries were not on the list. Are you worried about summits that will
emphasise the battle against extremism, the visit could be
overshadowed by the controversies over the alleged mishandling of
intelligence? We deal with the administration, we deal with the
President as our honoured guests and we deal with the 55 delegations that
are coming from the Arab and Muslim world and that is what our focus
will be. Will you make it clear that you have troops ready to offer?
President Trump will want you are going to do if he becomes more
engaged? We have made that clear for almost one year now. There are
troops available from the Islamic Coalition and we are prepared to
share the burden of going after the terrorists, ultimately the
terrorists are after Saudi Arabia. They want to take Mecca and Medina
so they have a platform to block us and we will not allow that to
happen. So that is really the language of this visit, all Ed
Barnard and historic to start and it seems according to sources that some
other historic steps could be taken. Some sources are saying that some
Arab states are now willing to consider tearing down some of the
walls of hatred with their old archenemy is real, starting to
normalise relations with Israel, even before the conflict with the
Palestinians has been resolved, even if this is not a turning point in
the region, certainly what will happen here in Riyadh over the next
few days is going to mark some new departures and coincidentally, it is
all taking place just when Iranians are turning out in huge numbers to
vote for a new President. A crucial time right across this region and
President Trump is going to be very much part of it. Thank you very much
for now. We'll be covering every step
of President Trump's visit - and you can keep right up to date
by following Lyse on Twitter. Her handle is @BBCLyseDoucet -
as you can see, she's already been giving the view in pictures
from Riyadh on the eve Let's take a look at some of
the other stories making the news... Former US congressman Anthony Wiener
has pleaded guilty to sending sexually explicit messages to a
teenage girl. The investigation into the ex-husband of one of Hillary
Clinton's former aides led to the discovery of documents relating to
Mrs Clinton's use of a private e-mail server.
Yemen could have as many as 300 thousand cases of cholera within six
months and an "extremely high" number of deaths, according
Nearly 250 people have died in the past three weeks alone.
The new President of France, Emmanuel Macron says the French
military operation in Mali will continue until the militants
He was met by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita,
to discuss the threat of terrorism in the west African country.
Mr Macron reaffirmed his commitment to helping
The United States military has protested to China after two Chinese
jets intercepted an American aircraft over the East China Sea.
One of the Chinese jets came as close as 45 metres to the US
plane and flew upside down above it, according to US
The US says the plane was on a mission to detect radiation
A high turnout in Iran's presidential election has forced
officials to extend voting by an extra four hours.
The election could set the country's relations with the outside world
with moderate incumbent president Hassan Rouhani facing his strongest
competition from hardliner Ebrahim Raisi who proposes a tougher
The BBC has not been given permission to cover
But our correspondent Jiyar Gol is in Istanbul where many expats
What is the likely result of this high turnout, how will this the
result, do you think? Obviously, so many people here are hopeful that
they get the result they are hoping for. Today from the early morning,
thousands of people stayed in the queue for hours, some of them more
than five hours cast their votes in Istanbul. At one point the reigning
council had ran out of ballot papers and they were forced to fly ballot
papers from Teheran and almost three hours after the official, which was
six o'clock, they extended by three hours and there are still people in
the consulate waiting to cast their ballots. I spoke to many of them,
what is the reason, you have come out to vote today and they said,
their future, the future of their country, they think and they are
hoping that the next President, whoever comes out from the ballot
box takes action and makes sure that the economy improves, make sure the
relationship between Iran and the international community improves and
to be honest, many of them said they have come out, although they are
tourists in this country, spending thousands of dollars, but instead of
spending time at the beach and other places, they have come here and
stayed in the line to make sure that the hard would not win the election.
They were worried, if he wins, he might take Iran back to a previous
era. That is why lots of people came out to vote. Most people here, are
liberal. The reality was, we cannot say this is conflicting in Iran but
what we are hearing from in Iran, it has been the same scene and the
election time has been extended until 11 o'clock Iranians time.
Thank you very much for that. Mehrdad Khonsari is a Senior
Consultant at the Iranian Centre for Policy Studies and a former
Iranian diplomat. Thank you for joining us. Give us an
idea of why this election is so significant? First and foremost, the
most important thing is that we should not go back in time and that
the hopes and aspirations of people should progress. No one in Iran is
who they were 38 years ago and people like to move on from those
revolutionary days, essentially a move towards progress and hope for a
better future, improving the economy and things like that, which means
that Iran's isolation with the economic community, encouraging
investment to go in and all the paraphernalia, that a modern state
requires and that really is what is at stake and so clearly defined in
the positions of the true candidates. One would mean going
back and the other would mean that the forward to a better future. Stay
with us for a moment, because we can go back to the United States and see
live pictures of Donald Trump. He is boarding Air Force One, we were
saying he was due to lift off from St Andrews Air Force Base to go to
Riyadh and this is his first major trip and all eyes are on this trip.
He is due to depart any moment now and this is a nine-day trip which
includes visits to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican cover the
homes of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, a hugely ambitious
trip, lots of coverage to come over the next few hours. We will bring
you much more on this story, we will be hearing from our international
correspondent, we heard from her earlier, it is a big trip and we
will bring you coverage as the hours go on. Meanwhile there is a big
election going on in Iran and we were speaking to my guest. We were
talking a little about this election and how significant it is, there is
some unhappiness within the country in terms of high unemployment and
difficulties in terms of food and medicine, how will that impact on
the decisions of voters? You have to bear in mind that over the past 38
years, Iran has gone from one crisis to another and the problem is that
the community faces today is a culmination of all these various
crisis is, having an impact on the way life has progressed. The most
important crisis that Iran faced was the nuclear issue. The nuclear issue
praised Iran under sanctions and international pressure. Hassan
Rouhani was able to end that crisis. Having ended it, it did not mean
that all the problems were raised immediately. The hope is on the part
of the population is that issues like unemployment, production and
economy, things like that that improved the daily life of ordinary
people, can progress, with this government that has ended this
important crisis and not to go back to a situation where you start the
new year of confrontation with the West which would aggravate this and
essentially end hope for improvement in the lives of people. Even so
there is support for Ebrahim Raisi, where to think that support comes
from? You have to bear in mind that Iran is a polarised, it is quite
polarised. What has happened, as a consequence of time, the number of
people within the ruling establishment even, who support
people like Ebrahim Raisi are an enormous majority, however, all the
levers of the power in Iran is controlled by that small minority
which Ebrahim Raisi represents. These are the very poor who rely on
government hand-outs and this is what made the previous President
popular with the poorer classes by giving out free money to people,
bonuses and so on. Ebrahim Raisi has promised to treble that amount which
the previous President handed out. The government of Hassan Rouhani is
trying to encourage people to enter into the economy, employment and to
reward them in that fashion. There is a small constituency with in Iran
who are die-hard supporters of the regime and as small as the
constituency within the ruling establishment is, who have backed
Ebrahim Raisi, nonetheless, they control all the levers of power,
essentially making policy in Iran at this time. It is such a fascinating
collection, thank you for being with us. Let
Let's get more now on our top story - the decision by Swedish
prosecutors to shelve a lengthy rape investigation against Wikileaks
Our correspondent Maddie Savage is in Stockholm and joins us now.
what has been the reaction to this fair? Journalists gathered for their
press conference earlier, shocked really at this final conclusion for
seven years of legal wrangling is that Swedish prosecutors say, for
now they are putting their investigation to one side, because
of legal technicalities. Basically saying that Julian Assange is
refusing to come to Sweden and they think they have exhausted all other
possibilities of questioning him and getting further help from the
Ecuadorian authorities who are still holding him in their embassy in
London. Some initial shock, we have been in contact with one of the
alleged victims, a woman who said that Julian Assange raped she says
that he is still guilty in her mind and that he has now lost the
possibility to defend his name and be found innocent. She says that
these allegations are going to stick to him for ever. Earlier her lawyer
also give a statement to the media saying that her client was shocked
and calling it a scandal that a rapist could escape justice. No
immediate reaction regarding exactly how prosecutors have dealt with this
case, but certainly it has been going on for a very long time and
questions will be asked about the time and money and in the context of
this eventual outcome which has not resulted in a prosecution or Julian
sod being found guilty or not guilty. Thank you very much.
The Japanese cabinet has approved a bill paving the way
If, as expected, it is approved by parliament, it will be the first
time an Emperor has stepped down in more than 200 years.
The bill will only apply to Emperor Akihito, and does not
address any of the other issues facing the Japanese royal family,
such as whether girls should be allowed to ascend
Rupert Wingfield-Hayes' report contains flash photography.
It was in this extraordinary television address last year that
83-year-old Emperor Akihito made his plea to be
He said he is old and frail, and fears that he cannot long
TRANSLATION: In coping with the ageing of the Emperor,
I think it is not possible to continue reducing
perpetually the Emperor's acts in matters of state.
Today, Prime Minister Abe and his Cabinet acceded to his wish.
The Emperor and Empress will be allowed to retire,
But this is a one-time deal for him only.
When Crown Prince Naruhito ascends the Chrysanthemum Throne
on January 1st, 2019, he will still be expected
In Japan, changing the rules of royal succession is,
This week, Emperor Akihito's eldest granddaughter, Princess Mako,
announced her engagement to a commoner.
She cannot inherit the throne, nor can any children she may have.
Of the Emperor's four grandchildren, only ten-year-old Prince Hisahito
TRANSLATION: The number of active male members within the royal family
Plus, when a female member marries a commoner, she's
So the numbers will continue to shrink.
The strange thing is, Japan's people are all in favour of change.
In a recent survey, 59% said they think royal princesses should
society progress in a way that encourages women to freely take
I think more women working will lead to a brighter and happier society.
There have been female emperors in the past,
and societal changes occur along with generations.
But think things should be looked at case by case and flexibly.
As with so many things in Japan, it is not the public or even
the royal family who oppose change, but the men in dark suits
Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, BBC News, in Tokyo.
That visit family and the goodbye for now.