A Swedish prosecutor is planning to interview Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London over sexual assault allegations, the Swedish Prosecution Authority announced Tuesday. The Swedish government had dismissed a United Nations’ panel conclusion last Friday that the WikiLeaks founder was arbitrarily detained in the United Kingdom.
“The prosecutor responsible for the case, Director of Public Prosecution Marianne Ny, is currently working on a renewed request to interview Julian Assange at Ecuador’s embassy in London. A former request was rejected in January by the Prosecutor-General of Ecuador,” the authority said in a statement Tuesday. Referring to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s (UNWGAD) decision, Ny said that the opinion did not “change my earlier assessments in the investigation.”
Assange took refuge in the embassy in London in June 2012 after Swedish officials demanded his extradition for interrogation over sexual assault allegations. Assange, who has denied the accusations, has not been charged with any offense in the case.
Last Friday, the UNWGAD noted that the 44-year-old Australian’s detention was arbitrary because he was held in isolation at a U.K. prison for 10 days in December 2010 as Sweden continued investigation against him and he was then put under house arrest for 550 days after an international arrest warrant. The panel said that the Swedish prosecutor’s “lack of diligence” in the inquiry resulted in Assange’s “lengthy detention.” It concluded that Assange was subjected to “different forms of deprivation of liberty” and that the WikiLeaks founder was entitled to compensation.
The U.K. also expressed frustration over the UNWGAD’s decision and said that it will formally contest the ruling. Britain also accused Assange of avoiding lawful arrest by staying in the Ecuadorian embassy.
However, after the panel’s announcement, Assange said that the ruling was a vindication and urged Sweden and the U.K. to abide by the UNWGAD’s findings. “[Detention] without charge has been found to be unlawful. I consider the outcome a vindication. I would like to say thank you, that I miss my family. That we have today a really significant victory that has brought a smile to my face and I hope many others as well,” Assange said.
Assange has previously expressed fears that the Swedish government would extradite him to the U.S., where he is wanted for leaking sensitive diplomatic information in November 2010. He could face official secrecy and espionage charges over one of the largest information leaks in America's history.