Ecuador says will let Sweden interview Assange at London embassy
QUITO - Agence France-Presse
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appears on screen via video link during his participation as a guest panelist in an International Seminar on the 60th anniversary of the college of Journalists of Chile in Santiago, Chile, July 12, 2016. REUTERS photoEcuador said on Aug. 10 it will let Swedish officials interview Julian Assange at its embassy in London, where the WikiLeaks founder has been sheltering since June 2012.
In a statement, the foreign ministry said a letter has been sent by the Ecuadoran government to set up a meeting with Swedish officials at Quito's embassy in London.
The meeting is to take place "in the coming weeks," the statement said.
Prosecutors in Sweden want to interview Assange in connection with a 2010 rape allegation against him.
The 45-year-old Australian sought refuge in the Ecuadoran embassy in London in June 2012 after exhausting all his legal options in Britain against extradition to Sweden.
Assange fears that if he were sent to Sweden to face trial, he could be extradited to the United States to be tried over WikiLeaks' publication of hundreds of thousands of classified documents and face a long prison sentence or the death penalty.
Authorities have said that the statute of limitations on the charges against Assange runs through 2020.
The former computer hacker on Wednesday appealed a Stockholm district court's decision to maintain a European arrest warrant against him over the rape allegation and that he continues to challenge extradition to Sweden to be questioned by prosecutors.
The anti-secrecy campaigner, who denies the allegation, walked into Quito's London embassy of his own free will four years ago, with Britain on the brink of sending him to Stockholm, and has not left since.
Last month a Swedish district court maintained a European arrest warrant against Assange, rejecting his lawyers' request to have it lifted.
Ecuador in the past has said it does not want to interfere with Sweden's rape investigation.
Quito has said it would support Assange's transfer if Stockholm could provide guarantees that he would not be sent to the United States for prosecution over WikiLeaks' release of 500,000 secret military files.
Assange has compared living inside the embassy -- which has no garden but is in the plush Knightsbridge district, near Harrods department store -- to life on a space station.
His 15 feet by 13 feet (4.6 by 4 meter) room is divided into an office and a living area. He has a treadmill, shower, microwave and sun lamp and spends most of his day at his computer.
A UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on February 5 ruled in a non-binding decision that Assange's confinement in the Ecuadoran embassy amounted to arbitrary detention by Sweden and Britain.
Both Britain and Sweden have angrily disputed the UN group's findings.