Swedish prosecutors provided Friday to query WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London over rape allegations, in a U-turn that would present a breakthrough within the deadlocked case.
Considered one of Assange’s attorneys welcomed the prosecutors’ proposal, saying the interview can be a primary step in clearing his consumer who took refuge within the Ecuadorean embassy in 2012 to keep away from extradition to Sweden and has been there ever since.
“He’ll settle for” to be questioned in London, says lawyer Per Samuelsson, including that Assange was “glad” concerning the growth.
“We’re cooperating with the investigation,” he mentioned.
Britain’s Overseas Workplace pledged its assist, saying: “As we’ve made clear beforehand, we stand prepared to help the Swedish prosecutor, as required.”
Ecuador lashed out on the prosecutors for his or her delay in agreeing to query Assange at its embassy.
“If that they had accepted Ecuador’s provide to query him 1,000 days in the past, it will have saved us all some huge cash and hassle,” Overseas Minister Ricardo Patino wrote on Twitter.
“On Monday Assange will mark 1,000 days inside our embassy in London. From the primary day we’ve provided to let (prosecutors) query him they usually didn’t do it,” he tweeted.
WikiLeaks itself mentioned the dealing with of the case had left a “black stain” on Sweden’s human rights document.
To date, Swedish prosecutors have refused to go to London to query the 43-year-old Australian former hacker over the allegations.
Assange has refused to go to Sweden to be questioned over the allegations, which he has vehemently denied, saying the sexual encounters have been consensual.
However the prosecutor accountable for the case, Marianne Ny, mentioned Friday she was dropping her opposition as a number of the alleged offences will attain their statute of limitations in August.
Ny’s workplace mentioned in an announcement she had at all times believed that interrogating Assange on the Ecuadorean embassy would “decrease the standard of the interview, and that he would must be current in Sweden in any case ought to there be a trial.”
Ny has additionally requested to take a DNA pattern from Assange.
Sweden issued an arrest warrant for Assange in 2010 following allegations from two girls in Sweden, one who claimed rape and one other who alleged sexual assault.
A lawyer for one of many girls urged Swedish authorities to query Assange as quickly as doable.
“For my consumer, doable fees should come earlier than August,” mentioned her lawyer Claes Borgstrom, who famous the statute of limitations in Sweden is 5 years for sexual assault and 10 years for rape.
Elizabeth Fritz, a lawyer for the opposite girl, wrote in an e mail: “Assange didn’t make himself obtainable to be interviewed in Sweden… That’s why it’s vital to vary the situation of the interview.”
Assange fears that Sweden would go him on to america, the place an investigation is ongoing into WikiLeaks’ launch in 2010 of 500,000 labeled navy information on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and 250,000 diplomatic cables which embarrassed Washington.
A former US military intelligence analyst, Chelsea Manning, is serving a 35-year jail time period for leaking labeled paperwork to WikiLeaks.
Since Assange took refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in London, British law enforcement officials have stood guard across the clock, at a value to this point to British taxpayers of virtually £10.four million (14.6 million euros, $15.four million), in line with WikiLeaks.
The anti-secrecy group slammed Swedish prosecutors for ready so lengthy to make the provide.
“It’s outrageous that the Swedish authorities have waited 4 and a half years to come back to this determination,” mentioned WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson.
“This whole saga is a black stain on Sweden’s human rights document. It’s time the authorities face it and drop the case fully,” he mentioned.
Considered one of Assange’s essential monetary supporters, Australian-born campaigning journalist John Pilger, described the Swedish prosecutor’s provide as “demonstrably cynical”.
“In lastly agreeing to come back to London to interview Julian Assange… she has waited till simply earlier than Sweden’s statute of limitations nullifies her threadbare case towards him,” Pilger mentioned.
“She has wasted 4 and a half years of Assange’s life — towards whom she has by no means had a shred of proof to cost him with any crime.
“Her behaviour is scandalous,” he mentioned.