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  India   Ecuador will allow Sweden to grill Julian Assange

Ecuador will allow Sweden to grill Julian Assange

AFP
Published : Aug 12, 2016, 6:48 am IST
Updated : Aug 12, 2016, 6:48 am IST

Ecuador says it will let Swedish officials interview Julian Assange at its embassy in London, where the WikiLeaks founder has been sheltering for the past four years.

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Ecuador says it will let Swedish officials interview Julian Assange at its embassy in London, where the WikiLeaks founder has been sheltering for the past four years.

Quito’s foreign ministry said in a statement late Wednesday that a letter has been sent by the Ecuadoran government to set up the meeting.

“In the coming weeks, a date will be established for the proceedings to be held at the Embassy of Ecuador in the United Kingdom,” the statement read.

Prosecutors in Sweden have said they want to interview Assange in connection with a 2010 rape allegation against him.

“The prosecutor has requested permission to carry out an interrogation, so it is of course good for the investigation if it can be held,” Karin Rosander, spokeswoman for the Swedish Prosecution Authority, said on Thursday. She added that the questions will be asked by an Ecuadoran prosecutor, but said “Swedish prosecutor Ingrid Isgren and a police investigator will take part”. Mr Assange, through his attorneys, welcomed the development. “Julian Assange’s defence team welcomes the fact that steps are finally under way to take Mr Assange’s statement, a request that Mr Assange has asked of the Swedish prosecution since August 2010,” his lawyers said in a statement.

Mr Assange, 45, sought refuge in the Ecuadoran embassy in London in June 2012 after exhausting all his legal options in Britain against extradition to Sweden. Mr Assange has said he fears that if he were sent to Sweden to face trial, he could be extradited to the United States to be tried over WikiLeaks’ publication of hundreds of thousands of classified documents and face a long prison sentence or the death penalty.

Ecuador in the past has said it does not want to interfere with Sweden’s rape investigation.

The Quito government has said it would support Assange’s transfer if Stockholm could guarantee that he would not be sent to the United States for prosecution over WikiLeaks’ release of 5,00,000 secret military files.

Authorities have said the statute of limitations for charges against Mr Assange runs out in 2020.

But a UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in February ruled in a non-binding decision that Mr Assange’s confinement in the Ecuadoran embassy amounted to arbitrary detention by Sweden and Britain.

Both Britain and Sweden have angrily disputed the UN group's findings.

Location: Ecuador, Pichincha, Quito