In Brief

Julian Assange welcomes offer to be quizzed in London

Swedish prosecutors ready to question Wikileaks founder about sex assault allegations in London

Julian Assange

Swedish prosecutors have offered to interview Wikileaks founder Julian Assange about sex assault allegations in London, marking the first sign of movement in the case for nearly three years.

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in Knightsbridge since 2012 after losing his appeal against extradition to Sweden.

He fears that if he returns to Sweden he might be extradited to the US to face charges for leaking sensitive material, possibly facing the death penalty.

Prosecutors had insisted on questioning him in Sweden but have relaxed their stance with just months to go before some of his potential charges expire under the statute of limitations.

Lead prosecutor Marianne Ny said in a statement: "My view has always been that to perform an interview with him at the Ecuadorean embassy in London would lower the quality of the interview, and that he would need to be present in Sweden in any case should there be a trial in the future."

However, she said now that "time is of the essence" she is willing to take this risk.

Ny wants to take a DNA sample from Assange, who has not been formally charged, and question him about allegations of rape and sexual misconduct made by two women he met during a trip to Sweden in August 2010.

Per Samuelson, a lawyer for Assange, said: "This is something we've demanded for over four years... I have spoken to Julian and he welcomes this because he wants to clear his name. But he is also irritated because he believes this should have been done earlier."

Assange denies the allegations, claiming they are part of a smear campaign against him after Wikileaks released classified US military documents on the Afghan and Iraq wars, including footage of US soldiers shooting dead 18 civilians from a helicopter in Iraq.

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