Swedish prosecutors on Friday offered to question WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London, potentially breaking a stalemate in an almost five-year-old investigation into alleged sex crimes by the anti-secrecy activist.
Prosecutors had previously refused to travel to London, where Assange has spent almost three years inside the Ecuadorean embassy in a bid to avoid arrest and extradition.
Lead prosecutor Marianne Ny explained the change in position by saying some of the crimes the 43-year-old Australian is accused of will reach their statute of limitations in August.
“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,” Ny said in a statement.
“Now that time is of the essence, I have viewed it therefore necessary to accept such deficiencies in the investigation and likewise take the risk that the interview does not move the case forward.”
Sweden ordered Assange’s arrest in August 2010. He has not been formally indicted but he faces allegations of rape, sexual molestation and illegal coercion involving two women. Karin Rosander, spokeswoman for the Swedish Prosecution Authority, said the latter two allegations expire after five years, rape after 10 years.
Assange denies the women’s claims.
Report by The Associated Press