In Brief

Will Julian Assange be forced to leave Ecuador’s London embassy?

WikiLeaks founder reported to have upset recently elected Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno

Sweden to question Assange in Ecuador embassy

14 December

Ecuador has agreed to allow Julian Assange to be questioned by the Swedish authorities at its embassy in London.

The Wikileaks founder took refuge in the embassy three years ago to avoid extradition to Sweden on charges of sexual assault and has been granted political asylum by the Ecuadorian government.

Ecuador said the agreement between Quito and Stockholm will ease "judicial procedures such as the questioning of Mr Assange", the Daily Telegraph reports, adding:

"The agreement, without any doubt, is a tool that strengthens bilateral relations and facilitates, for example, the execution of such legal actions as the questioning of Mr Assange, isolated in the Ecuadorian embassy in London."

The 44-year-old political activist has repeatedly denied the sexual assault accusations but has refused to travel to Sweden to face the charges as he fears being extradited to the US over the activities of Wikileaks in 2010.

Britain has accused Ecuador of perverting the course of justice by allowing Mr Assange to remain in the embassy.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office told the BBC, "It is for the Swedish prosecutor to decide how they now proceed with the legal case."

It is unlikely that Assange will face questioning until the New Year, says the Telegraph, but friends claim it is a positive sign, pointing out he has been pressing to be interviewed for years.

Baltasar Garzon, co-ordinator of Mr Assange's international legal defence team, said:

"We are glad that Ecuador and Sweden have reached an agreement for judicial co-operation. The most important thing now is that it must provide the appropriate legal guarantees.

"Julian Assange's rights need to be respected by Sweden and the United Kingdom. These countries have failed to do so until now. Julian Assange's only demands are that his fundamental rights are acknowledged and respected, including the asylum granted to him by Ecuador."

 

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