Assange questioned at Ecuadorian embassy over rape allegation
Assange has been residing in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since claiming political asylum back in 2012, when Sweden issued a European arrest warrant for him. An Ecuadorean prosecutor is interviewing Assange, asking questions the Swedish side had submitted previously. The interview is attended by Sweden’s chief prosecutor Ingred Isgren. Swedish police inspector Cecilia Redell is also reportedly to be present. Both are allowed to ask for clarifications to Assange’s responses, but not put any fresh questions forward.
Assange’s answers will be transcribed and sent to the Swedish authorities for processing. If he consents to it, a DNA sample will also be taken from him.
Assange's lawyer Per Samuelsson said the questioning could last for several days, adding that it was too early to say what the meeting will bring about and what information revealed by Assange would be made public, AFP reported.
Ecuador's foreign minister Guillaume Long told the Press Association that he was “pleased” with the perspective of the interview at last.
“This is something that Ecuador has been inviting the Swedish prosecutors to do ever since we granted asylum to Mr. Assange in 2012.
“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 a journalist,” Long said.
Throughout the years, Assange has not been charged with any offence under Swedish law but was sought for questioning over complaints of sexual assault by two women in 2010. He has been sought for questioning on allegations of four counts of sexual misconduct, which he repeatedly denied and three of which have now expired under Sweden’s Statute of Limitations. Technically free to leave the embassy, the WikiLeaks founder, however, decided to stay, repeatedly raising concerns over Swedish demands that he be questioned in person, as he feared the prosecutors in fact want to extradite him to the United States.
There he faces questioning and potentially charges over his whistleblowing activities, as the FBI is investigating him for ‘espionage.’ The investigation revolves around the Iraq War leaks, sent to WikiLeaks by former US Army Private Chelsea Manning. She is currently serving a 35-year jail sentence for the leaks. With current US President Barack Obama reluctant to clear Assange, his supporters have turned to President-elect Donald Trump with a petition requesting him to pardon the whistleblowers.
Political activist and artist Clark Stoeckly told RT it would be wise for the incoming president to let Assange off the hook as it would draw liberals to Trump’s side.
“Julian is due to have some freedom so that he can continue to do the work he sought to do. If Obama doesn’t make the decision to pardon Manning, Assange, and Snowden, he continues to live with this legacy of being the president who started a war on whistleblowers. It’s going to be in Trump’s hands to take that prize and fight for truth. And I think it would certainly change the way the liberals and those on the left view Trump,” Stoeckly said.