Sweden offers to question Assange in UK

Sweden offers to question Assange in UK

Swedish prosecutors today offered to travel to the UK to question Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, holed up at Ecuador's embassy here since 2012, over sex assault allegations in a possible breakthrough in the case that has been deadlocked for years.

A Swedish prosecutor explained the change of strategy by saying potential charges against 43-year-old Assange would expire under the statute of limitations in August.

Marianne Ny, who heads the investigation into accusations of rape and sexual molestation against the WikiLeaks founder, lodged a request with Assange's lawyers to interrogate him in London and take a DNA sample.

Ny has long resisted questioning Assange in London, arguing that it would lower the quality of her interviews and insisting that he should be flown to Stockholm instead.

But the clock is ticking because under Swedish law there is a time limit for investigating some offences.

According to media reports from Oslo, Assange is ready to cooperate with the investigators and will accept the offer.

Sweden sought Assange's arrest in 2010 but he denies the assault claims and has sought refuge at the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012.

Prosecutors had previously insisted on questioning him in Sweden.
He fears that if he is sent to Sweden he could then be extradited to the US to face charges over leaking material.

"My view has always been that to perform an interview with him at the Ecuadorean embassy in London would lower the quality of the interview, and that he would need to be present in Sweden in any case should there be a trial in the future," Ny said in a statement.

"Now that time is of the essence, I have viewed it therefore necessary to accept such deficiencies in the investigation and likewise take the risk that the interview does not move the case forward."

A lawyer for Assange, Per Samuelson, welcomed the move.
"This is something we've demanded for over four years," he said.

The move will also be welcome by the UK government, which had recently said that the cost of police protection outside the Ecuadorian embassy had mounted to around 10 million pounds.

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