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Assange agrees to be interviewed at London embassy

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has agreed to be questioned over rape allegations at Ecuador's London embassy. The development could break a five-year deadlock in the case.

A lawyer for Julian Assange said on Thursday that a confirmation letter had been sent to Swedish prosecutors stating that his client was willing to be interviewed at the embassy in the British capital.

"Now we await further word [from prosecutors]," lawyer Thomas Olsson said, adding that he had no information about when the questioning might take place.

The WikiLeaks founder has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy since June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is accused of sexually assaulting two women in 2010. Assange has always denied the allegations, and says the encounters were consensual.

In November, the 43-year-old

lost his appeal

for the Swedish arrest warrant to be lifted, with the court saying he had to be questioned over the alleged assaults. Assange's lawyers in February then

lodged an appeal in Sweden's Supreme Court

to have the warrant quashed.

Swedish prosecutors last month

asked permission to quiz Assange

about the case in London. They had previously insisted on an interview in Sweden, but said they had changed their minds because time was running out to press certain charges before they reach their statute of limitations in August.

Assange, an Australian citizen, had long offered to be interviewed by prosecutors at the embassy, but has refused to travel to Stockholm to refute the allegations. He has said he fears the country would then extradite him to the United States where he would likely face trial over WikiLeaks' release of hundreds of thousands of classified US diplomatic, military and intelligence documents in 2010.

According to English law, a person interviewed under international legal assistance in a criminal case must provide his or her consent.

nm/ (Reuters, AFP)

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