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Swedish Prosecutor Seeks to Question Assange

  • VOA News

FILE - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures during a news conference at the Ecuadorian embassy in central London August 18, 2014.

FILE - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures during a news conference at the Ecuadorian embassy in central London August 18, 2014.

Swedish prosecutors are seeking to question WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London on allegations of sexual misconduct, potentially breaking a stalemate in the nearly five-year-long investigation.

Prosecutors had initially refused to question him in London, instead insisting that he be questioned in Sweden to face allegations in the 2010 case.

"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," said lead prosecutor Marianne Ny in a statement.

The statement said the main reason the prosecutor has decided to interview Assange in London is that a number of the crimes he is suspected of will expire in August under the statute of limitation.

"Now that time is of the essence, I have viewed it therefore necessary to accept such deficiencies to the investigation," she said.

Ny said she will also ask to have a DNA sample taken from Assange, who is staying in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

A lawyer for Assange welcomed the move, saying it is something they have demanded for more than four years.

Assange sought refuge in Ecuador's embassy in 2012 when British courts said he could be extradited to Sweden for allegations of sexual misconduct. Assange has denied the charges, saying they were politically motivated.

The Australian former journalist fears Sweden would hand him over to the United States, where he would likely face trial for one of the largest leaks of classified material in U.S. history.

Assange and his WikiLeaks team published hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. documents, including military documents on the Iraq war and U.S. embassy cables detailing its dealings with countries around the world.

The British government said it has spent $10 million policing the embassy to ensure Assange does not flee the country.

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