Assange questioning in London ends after two days

Prosecutors have concluded a two-day interview with Julian Assange on Tuesday as part of an inquiry to determine whether to charge him with a possible sex crime dating back six years.

Assange questioning in London ends after two days

World Bulletin / News Desk

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's questioning at the Ecuadoran embassy in London over a longstanding rape allegation ended on Tuesday, Swedish prosecutors said.

The results of the questioning by an Ecuadoran prosecutor, which began on Monday, will not be provided immediately on the grounds of confidentiality, the Swedish prosecutor's office said in a statement.

"After this report, the prosecutors will take a view on the continuation of the investigation," it added. 

Swedish prosecutor Ingrid Isgren, Ecuador's ambassador to Britain, Carlos Ortiz, and an Ecuadoran lawyer representing Assange were all present as the former hacker was grilled with questions provided by Swedish officials.

However, Assange's Swedish lawyer Per Samuelsson was not allowed to attend, a ruling that he will "contest", he told AFP Tuesday.

The 45-year-old Assange sought refuge in Ecuador's embassy in London's upmarket Knightsbridge neighbourhood in June 2012, fleeing allegations of rape and sexual assault in Sweden dating back to 2010. 

Assange has denied the claims and called them politically motivated.

The former computer hacker, an Australian national, refused to travel to Sweden for questioning, saying he feared he would then be extradited to the United States over WikiLeaks' release of 500,000 secret military files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

 Supporters hold vigil 

 A first hearing scheduled for October with Ecuadoran prosecutor Toainga Wilson was postponed at Assange's request, citing "his rights to the protection and defence of his person," according to Ecuadoran prosecutors.

Swedish prosecutors dropped their sexual assault probe into Assange last year after the five-year statute of limitations expired.

But they still want to question him about the 2010 rape allegation, which carries a 10-year statute of limitations.

Assange insists the sexual encounters in question were consensual and his lawyer Samuelsson told Sweden's TT news agency on Monday that he was "very hopeful" his client would clear his name.

"For the first time since August 2010, Mr. Assange was finally able to give his statement in relation to this allegation," he added. 

"He has done so in part to ensure the Swedish authorities have no further excuse not to discontinue their preliminary investigation," WikiLeaks later said in a statement, adding that Assange fully cooperated with the process.

But Elisabeth Fritz, the lawyer for Assange's alleged victim, said: "My client has been waiting six years for justice... It is time for this to go to trial."

She added in a statement: "We are expecting that the prosecutor will announce charges after this questioning and that these charges lead to a trial in a Swedish court."

Assange's supporters camped outside the embassy for the two-day questioning, and earlier waved banners reading "Free Assange" and "You Won't Stop WikiLeaks".

The website's public profile dwindled while its mastermind remained confined to the embassy, but recently returned to prominence with the leak of tens of thousands of emails from the US Democratic Party and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign in the final weeks of the race for the White House.

Assange denied influencing the shock election result and rejected claims he had links with Russia.

 

Last Mod: 15 Kasım 2016, 19:26
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