London: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is expected to be questioned soon by Swedish authorities over alleged sexual offences after Ecuador indicated it had reached a bilateral deal with Sweden. Assange has been wanted for questioning by Swedish authorities since 2010, but was granted asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London where he has been holed up for more than three years.
In April, the activist had said he consented to the Swedish prosecutor’s conditions for the interrogation procedure to take place at the embassy in Kensington in central London.
Assange’s Swedish lawyer, Per Samuelson, told the ‘Guardian’ that Sweden needed to formally approve the deal and he understood those discussions would take place on Thursday. Negotiations began in June this year between Ecuador’s acting foreign minister, Xavier Lasso, and the Swedish justice ministry’s international affairs chief, Anna-Carin Svensson.
The Ecuadorean government statement said, “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 Ecuadorean embassy in London”.
The agreement would be the final step towards interviewing Assange in London, with a request to the UK for legal assistance having already been granted, according to previous statements from the Swedish prosecutor’s office. Two women had levelled rape allegations against Assange five years ago in Stockholm, but no charges were brought because the prosecutor has been unable to interrogate him.
Assange says he had no choice but to seek asylum as Sweden declined to guarantee that he would not be extradited to the US to face espionage charges related to WikiLeaks if he travelled to Stockholm.