Swedish prosecutors said Thursday that they were still waiting for Ecuador’s permission to question WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London, as the statute of limitations nears for some of his alleged crimes.
The Australian denies the 2010 allegations by two Swedish women — one who claims rape and another who alleges sexual assault — and has been ensconced in Ecuador’s embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition.
“We are still waiting for permission from Ecuador to carry out the hearing at the embassy in London,” the office of prosecutor Marianne Ny told AFP.
The Ecuadorian embassy in London did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Time is running out for the prosecution as some of the alleged offenses will reach their statute of limitations on August 13 and 18, meaning it will no longer be possible to try him over these accusations.
A lawyer for one of the women, Claes Borgstrom, told public broadcaster Swedish Radio he feared Assange would avoid charges.
“If the statute of limitations expires, and most indications are that it will, the prosecutor will close the investigation,” he said.
The period is 10 years for rape cases, which leaves the prosecution until 2020 on that count.
Assange is subject to a European arrest warrant that Britain plans to execute once he sets foot outside Ecuador’s embassy.
The 44-year-old insists the two sexual encounters were consensual.
Swedish prosecutors offered in March to question Assange in London, dropping their previous demand that he come to Sweden to answer to the 2010 allegations.
A criminal investigation is ongoing in the U.S. into WikiLeaks’ release in 2010 of 500,000 classified military files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and 250,000 diplomatic cables.
Credit: AFP News