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Sweden set to drop Assange sex assault probe

Posted in World

Published on August 14, 2015 with No Comments

Swedish prosecutors are set to drop a sexual assault probe against┬áJulian Assange when the case reaches its expiration date without investigators having succeeded in questioning the WikiLeaks founder. Two of the four allegations against Assange — who has been holed up at Ecuador`s London embassy since 2012 to avoid extradition — are reaching their statute of limitations after five years.

The accusations involve one count of sexual assault and another of unlawful coercion. A separate allegation of sexual molestation will run out on August 18. The 44-year-old Australian can still however be prosecuted for the more serious claim of rape, which carries a 10-year statute of limitations and expires in 2020.

Assange denies the allegations against him, brought by two Swedish women, and insists the sexual encounters were consensual. Under Swedish law, if a suspect is not questioned before the deadline expires, they can no longer be tried for the alleged crimes.

Despite repeated attempts, prosecutors have been unable to gain access to Ecuador`s embassy.They initially insisted Assange return to Sweden for interrogation — a condition he rejected on fears Stockholm could deliver him to US authorities, who may try him for leaking nearly 750,000 classified military and diplomatic documents in 2010.

In a U-turn in March, prosecutors agreed to Assange`s compromise offer to question him inside the London mission but say they have yet to see their request approved by Ecuador because of procedural issues — leading critics to suspect Quito of playing the clock.

Attorneys for Assange however say suspicions that Ecuador is using delaying tactics are unfounded. “The Swedish request came in late and is being processed by Ecuador, which will certainly approve it after following its own procedures,” Assange`s Swedish lawyer Per Samuelsson is reported to have said.

 

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