Julian Assange to be questioned over rape allegation in Ecuador
Quito,Nov8:Julian Assange will be questioned next week in the Ecuadorian embassy in London over an allegation of rape, Sweden’s public prosecutor’s office has confirmed.
The WikiLeaks founder, who has been holed up in the embassy since 2012, welcomed the news through his lawyer, saying he was looking forward to the “chance to clear his name”.
The Swedish authorities said one of the prosecutors on the case, Ingrid Isgren, as well as a Swedish police inspector, would also attend the questioning on 14 November and report the findings to Sweden.
“A DNA sample will also be taken, provided that Julian Assange agrees to it,” the prosecutor’s office said.
The whistleblower sought refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in London in June 2012, fleeing allegations of rape and sexual assault in Sweden dating back to 2010. Assange, 45, denies the claims.
The Australian national claims he refused to travel to Sweden for questioning because he feared extradition to the US over WikiLeaks’ release of 500,000 secret military files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“We have requested this interview repeatedly since 2010,” his lawyer, Per Samuelsson, said. “Julian Assange has always wanted to tell his version to the Swedish police. He wants a chance to clear his name. We hope the investigation will be closed then.”
The lawyer said the “shape of the questioning” was under discussion.A first hearing scheduled for October with the prosecutor Toainga Wilson had been postponed at Assange’s request, citing “his rights to the protection and defence of his person”, according to Ecuadorian prosecutors.
Swedish prosecutors dropped a sexual assault investigation, concerning another woman, against Assange last year after the five-year statute of limitations expired.
But they still want to question him about the 2010 rape allegation, which carries a 10-year statute of limitations. Assange insists the sexual encounters in question were consensual.
Last month, the Swedish prosecutor’s office rejected Assange’s request to temporarily suspend his arrest warrant so he could leave the Ecuadoran embassy to attend the funeral of his mentor, Gavin MacFayden.
WikiLeaks has returned to the spotlight in recent weeks with the damaging leak of tens of thousands of emails from the US Democratic party and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign.