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Wikileaks founder Assange questioned over rape allegations

November 14, 2016

Prosecutors have been questioning WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. Investigations are linked to allegations that Assange committed sexual misconduct in Sweden in 2010.

Julian Assange Gründer WikiLeaks
Image: picture alliance/empics/D. Lipinski

Questioning at the Ecuadoran Embassy on Monday marked a new phase in the legal drama surrounding Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. The interrogation was led by an Ecuadorean prosecutor in the presence of Swedish prosecutor Ingrid Isgren and a Swedish police investigator.

Swedish officials are currently seeking information related to allegations of serious misconduct made by two Swedish women who met Assange in 2010.

The 45-year-old Australian national, who sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012, was questioned about a possible rape of one of the women who complained to authorities. Prosecutors planned to ask Assange to consent to providing a DNA sample.

Assange denies the claims and says the charges are politically motivated due to his organization's release of emails and files that are embarrassing to national governments, especially the US. 

Hillary Clinton
The release of emails by Wikileaks was detrimental to Hillary Clinton's US presidential election campaignImage: Reuters/C. Barria

A sexual assault probe against Assange concerning another woman was already dropped last year after the five-year statute of limitations expired.

Wikileaks back in spotlight

In 2010, an international arrest warrant was issued for Assange who surrendered to British police and was freed on bail, before he moved into the Ecuadorean Embassy in London in June 2012, putting him out of reach of British authorities.

The Swedish prosecutor's office rejected Assange's request in October to temporarily suspend Assange's arrest warrant so he could leave the embassy to attend the funeral of mentor Gavin MacFayden.

Leaving the confines of the embassy - which is legally sovereign Ecuadorian territory - would almost certainly result in his immediate arrest by British police and eventual extradition to Sweden or possibly the US.

Washington has long investigated Assange on suspicion of espionage over his organization's 2010 disclosures of diplomatic cables leaked by whistleblower Chelsea Manning, a former US Army intelligence analyst who was subsequently prosecuted and jailed for leaking classified information.

WikiLeaks recently returned to the spotlight with its release of tens of thousands of emails from the US Democratic Party which played a part in the triumph of Republican Donald Trump in last week's presidential election.

ksb/se (AFP, AP)