Swedish prosecutors offer to travel to London for questioning Assange

Swedish prosecutors offer to travel to London for questioning Assange

PanARMENIAN.Net - Swedish prosecutors have offered to travel to London to question Wikileaks founder Julian Assange over sex assault allegations, BBC News reports.

Sweden sought Assange's arrest in 2010. Prosecutors had previously insisted on questioning him in Sweden. Assange denies the assault claims and has been living at the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012.

He fears that if he is sent to Sweden he could then be extradited to the U.S. to face charges over leaking material.

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

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

"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," lead prosecutor Marianne 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."

Ny said she had made a request to Assange's legal team to take a DNA sample from him in London, as well as conducting questioning.

Assange - an Australian journalist and activist - has not been formally charged, but prosecutors want to question him over allegations of rape and sexual misconduct made by two women he met during a trip to Sweden in August 2010.

Ecuador offered him asylum in August 2012, shortly after Assange sought refuge at the country's embassy in London.

In November a Swedish appeals court upheld the warrant for his arrest, but criticized prosecutors for not making enough effort to explore "alternative avenues" for interrogating Assange.

If he was extradited, he would be detained upon arrival in Sweden.

Though he fears that he might then be sent to the U.S., where he says he could face the death penalty, legal experts have pointed out several obstacles any extradition and subsequent prosecution in the US would have to overcome.

Wikileaks has published thousands of secret documents, which have caused intense embarrassment for the US and lifted the lid on diplomatic relations.

Assange, 43, co-founded the website in 2006.

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