WikiLeaks founder to be grilled by Swedish officials over rape charge


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is set to face questioning at Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he has been holed up for some four years, over a long-running allegation of sexual assault against him.

An Ecuadoran prosecutor, a Swedish prosecutor and a Swedish police inspector will question the 45-year-old Australian founder of the whistle-blowing website on Monday, according to media reports.

The questioning is reportedly expected to begin at around 1000 GMT, with the investigators seeking to take a DNA sample, subject to his agreement.

“It’s planned to last a few days,” said Assange’s lawyer Per Samuelsson.

Assange has welcomed the “chance to clear his name,” expressing hope that the probe will subsequently close.

The Australian journalist and publisher sought refuge at the Ecuadorian mission in June 2012 after Swedish prosecutors issued a European arrest warrant against him over allegations of rape and sexual assault filed by two women in Sweden.

Assange, who had met the women during a 2010 trip to Sweden, denied the accusations, saying the claims were politically-motivated, coercive measures meant to silence him.

He has, since then, refused to travel to Sweden for questioning, fearing he would be extradited to the United States to be charged over WikiLeaks’ release of over 500,000 secret military files against Washington.

The latest development came after Assange’s whistleblowing website ended its months-long campaign against US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton with her rival Donald Trump winning the US presidential race.

Assange had warned back in June that if Clinton managed to get into the White House, she would bring about an “endless war.”

During its anti-Clinton campaign, WikiLeaks pumped out a multitude of documents related to her bid for the White House.

The whistle-blowing website published thousands of hacked emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and some of Clinton’s aides.

The revelations included damning emails from Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta. The emails shed light on Clinton’s strategy and tactics in the presidential race.

Supporters of Assange, who regard him as a “hero” for exposing government “corruption,” have launched a petition calling on Trump to pardon Assange by “absolving him of any crimes alleged against him.”


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