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31 Jul, 2012 16:16

Sweden denies Ecuadorian request to interview Assange in UK

The Swedish government has rejected a request by Ecuadorian officials to interview Julian Assange in the UK “without any meaningful explanation,” WikiLeaks announced today on Twitter.

Senior Ecuadorian government sources had previously sent a formal request to Sweden to facilitate questioning between Assange and the Swedish prosecutor in his case at Ecuador’s London embassy, the UK’s Independent reported last week. The government of Ecuador has sought legal guarantees from both the UK and Sweden that Assange will not be extradited to the United States.“If Ecuador could be assured that the evil it wishes to prevent: The extradition to the USA of Julian Assange, could be [avoided], then that would be a just solution,”said a senior Ecuadorian legal advisor. Two officials at the Ecuadorian embassy previously said they had yet to receive an answer from either the UK or Sweden concerning any such legal guarantees. Ecuador has also sought clarification from the US government on the question of its extradition ambitions regarding Assange, though the advisor acknowledged they were unlikely to receive an answer.  Assange has been holed up in Ecuador’s London Embassy since June 19 after claiming asylum following a failed 18-month legal battle to prevent his extradition to Sweden.Assange is wanted in Sweden for questioning in relation to allegations of rape and sexual assault, though he has never been formally charged. The Wikileaks founder fears he will be extradited to the United States on charges of espionage upon being handed over to Swedish authorities. Last Thursday, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said a decision on whether to grant Assange political asylum would be made after the Olympic Games. Ecuador maintains that they hope to be an “honest broker,” and adhere to international obligations regarding Assange’s asylum request.New York-based antiwar activist and journalist Don De Bar believes Sweden is not genuinely interested in questioning Assange.  “They’re interested in obtaining control of his person,” he told RT. “And I think he correctly assesses that he could be forwarded to the United States.” De Bar noted that three actions have already been brought up against Assange in US federal courts. “The actions were dismissed, but in the most recent one, the court allowed that upon service of Assange that the action could go forward,” he said. “So there’s already legal activity that could give the US a foot into the Swedish courts.”