international intrigue

Sweden and Ecuador Strike Deal to Question Julian Assange in London

He’s slightly closer to being a free man. Photo: John Stillwell/AFP/Getty Images

Three-and-a-half years after Julian Assange holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, his case is slowly lurching forward. The Independent reports that Sweden and Ecuador have signed an agreement that will allow Swedish officials to question the WikiLeaks founder about a 2010 rape allegation without forcing him to leave the embassy. Swedish prosecutors offered to come to Assange back in March, and since then the two nations have been hashing out a diplomatic agreement that would allow them to do so. Ecuador called the deal a “tool that strengthens bilateral relations,” and noted that it will facilitate cooperation between the two nations in other cases as well.

Assange says he fears that if he returns to Sweden to answer questions about allegations that he raped and sexually assaulted two women in 2010, he’ll be extradited to the United States and tried for his role in publicizing classified military documents. He maintains his innocence, and his attorney Per Samuelson said previously that he “wants to be interviewed so he can be exonerated.”

Sweden recently dropped its investigation into two less serious allegations against Assange when the statute of limitation expired. Officials have until 2020 to decide whether to charge him with “lesser-degree rape.” The deal is expected to be finalized later this week, and Assange probably won’t be questioned until the new year.

Sweden, Ecuador Strike Deal to Question Assange