Ecuador has agreed to allow Sweden to interview WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange inside its embassy. The Australian has been sheltering in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid arrest on a Swedish criminal warrant.
Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that “in the coming weeks” a Swedish judge will be admitted inside its diplomatic compound to take a statement from the 45-year-old Australian national.
Assange is wanted for questioning over a 2010 rape allegation in Sweden but has been inside Ecuador’s UK mission for more than four years in a bid to avoid extradition.
Assange denies the charge, saying the sexual contact was consensual and the charges politically motivated to retaliate over his role in Wikileaks that publishes leaked data that is often embarrassing for governments and officials.
A long-running saga
Assange won an important victory before the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in Februrary which had found that Sweden and Britain violated his fundamental rights.
Ecuador has maintained it would allow Sweden to take custody of Assange if Stockholm guarantees that he would not be sent to the United States for prosecution over WikiLeaks’ release of 500,000 US diplomatic cables in 2010.
Since then the anti-secrecy group has continued to leak files gleaned by hackers including emails from within the Democratic National Committee that suggested collusion between top party officials and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The party’s chair and other top officials resigned following the revelations.
Wikileaks has also been criticized for dumping unfiltered data including a recent email dump from Turkey’s ruling political party that had little apparent public interest value but included the personal contact information of women voters in nearly every Turkish province.
jar/kl (AFP, EFE)