Swedish prosecutors want to question Julian Assange in London over allegations of sexual assault, potentially ending an impasse that left the WikiLeaks founder holed up for almost three years in Ecuador's embassy in London.
Swedish prosecutors said on Friday they had asked for Assange's approval to question him in London, a U-turn after years of insisting he must go to Stockholm for questioning about alleged assaults against two women in 2010.
Hanging on in There
One of Assange's lawyers told Reuters he welcomed the request but expressed concern the process could take time because approval was needed from British and Ecuadorian authorities. Assange's lawyer Per Samuelson told Reuters:
"He has been nagging for this for four years. He wants nothing more than to have an opportunity…to give his version of what happened and to clear his name."
Even if Sweden drops the investigation, he faces arrest by British police for jumping bail granted while the UK courts considered a European arrest warrant issued by Sweden.
Samuelson said Assange and his lawyers had to discuss the request from Swedish prosecutors, who also want to sample his DNA, before responding. A Swedish appeals court late last year upheld a detention order on Assange, but said prosecutors had not made enough effort to question him.
The main reason for the prosecutors' change of heart is that several crimes Assange is suspected of are subject to a statute of limitations expiring in August.