Julian Assange to be questioned by Swedish prosecutors over sex allegation
Published 14/11/2016 | 08:01
The Ecuadorian government has welcomed moves by the Swedish authorities to interview Julian Assange inside its embassy over a sex allegation.
Representatives from the Swedish prosecutor's office and the Swedish police will be present while questions are put to the WikiLeaks founder by an Ecuadorian official today.
Mr Assange has been granted political asylum by Ecuador and has been living inside the embassy for over four years.
He believes that if he leaves the embassy he will be extradited to the United States for questioning over the activities of WikiLeaks.
He denies the allegation against him and has been offering to be interviewed at the embassy.
Guillaume Long, Ecuador's foreign minister, told the Press Association: "We are pleased that the Swedish authorities will finally interview Mr Assange in our embassy in London.
"This is something that Ecuador has been inviting the Swedish prosecutors to do ever since we granted asylum to Mr Assange in 2012.
"There was no need for the Swedish authorities to delay for over 1,000 days before agreeing to carry out this interview, given that the Swedish authorities regularly question people in Britain and received permission to do so on more than 40 occasions in recent years.
"Ecuador has never sought to stand in the way of any legal process in Sweden.
"What we have asked from Sweden, and the UK, are guarantees that Mr Assange will not be extradited to a third country, where he could be persecuted for his work as as a journalist.
"The Ecuadorian government granted asylum to Mr Assange in 2012 given the risk of such political persecution and we believe that this threat remains very real."
The Swedish assistant prosecutor, chief prosecutor Ingrid Isgren, and a Swedish police investigator will be present at the interview and have said that providing Mr Assange gives his consent, a DNA sample will also be taken.
The results of the interview will be reported from Ecuador to the Swedish prosecutors in a written statement. After this report, the prosecutors will take a view on the continuation of the investigation.
Ingrid Isgren will not give interviews during her stay in London, it was made clear.
"As the investigation is ongoing, it is subject to confidentiality. This confidentiality also applies according to Ecuadorian legislation for the investigative measures conducted at the embassy.
"Therefore, the prosecutors cannot provide information concerning details of the investigation after the interview," said a statement.
"I welcome the fact that the investigation can now move forward via an interview with the suspect," said director of prosecution Marianne Ny, who is responsible for the investigation.