Swedish authorities have discontinued a preliminary rape investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The deputy chief prosecutor, Eva-Marie Persson, said that after nearly a decade the memories of witnesses had faded. “Time is a player in this decision,” she said. Assange has repeatedly denied the allegations, and sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in June 2012 as he feared extradition to Sweden would then see him transferred to the United States. After being forcibly removed from the embassy this year, he is now in a British prison awaiting a hearing regarding extradition to the US, where he potentially faces decades in prison over charges including violation of an espionage law.
Secret trial: Author Robert Macklin, who prompted a police crackdown by attempting to work with a prisoner in publishing a memoir, has criticised the secrecy surrounding the man’s imprisonment, reports Guardian Australia. The prisoner, understood to be a military intelligence officer, was convicted and jailed in the ACT last year for an unknown crime in a process hidden from public view. “I didn’t think we had secret trials in Australia,” Macklin said.
Infrastructure spending: In a speech to the Business Council of Australia tonight, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is to announce an accelerated plan of $3.8 billion of infrastructure investment into the next four-year forward estimates period. Nearly half of that sum will come in the next 18 months. The effort comes in the wake of concern that the federal government’s tax cuts have failed to adequately stimulate the economy. Morrison will downplay the prospect of bringing forward plans ($) for future tax cuts.
Epstein death criminal charges: Two prison guards in New York have been charged by US prosecutors for falsifying records to cover up their failure to monitor sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in the hours before his death in a cell in August. Epstein was awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges. The news comes as a new accuser has come forward claiming Epstein sexually abused her as a 15-year-old, and urged Prince Andrew, who is attracting scrutiny over his close relationship with Epstein, to share information.
Impeachment revelations: The impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump has heard from officials who gave first-hand accounts of alleged efforts from Trump to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rival, former US vice-president Joe Biden. Among the revelations was that Trump was acting on his own in a July call in asking for the investigations and was provided with no talking points to back that up, and that in another phone call the following day to Gordon Sondland, Ambassador to the European Union, Trump sought confirmation that Ukraine would undertake an investigation.