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Statute of limitations in Assange case pressures Sweden

August 31, 2015 - UNITED KINGDOM

Several Swedish sexual assault charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange expire in August and prosecutors want to question him before the deadline, a task requiring a visit by them to London, but the visit appears less certain by the day.

Assange, who denies the charges, has lived since Jun 2012 at the Embassy of Ecuador. The country gave him political asylum because he is at risk of extradition to the United States to face espionage and conspiracy charges for releasing military documents on WikiLeaks.

In July, a report surfaced that the Swiss prosecutors have been denied access to the embassy. The question is whether they will be able to negotiate a way around the stumbling block.

An Australian journalist and activist, Assange has not been formally charged in Sweden. Prosecutors want to ask him about rape and sexual misconduct allegations made by two women he met during a trip to Sweden in Aug 2010. Previously they had insisted on questioning him in Sweden, but the deadline has made them more flexible. They have until 2020 to investigate the most serious allegations.

Assange founded WikiLeaks in 2006. The website aims to provide a platform for whistleblowers to post sensitive and secret political documents while keeping their identity anonymous. In the following years, several hundred thousand communications, many relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and spying were released, infuriating and embarrassing the United States.

In March, a US court confirmed that WikiLeaks and Assange are still being targeted in a long-running investigation by the US Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

British police are on guard outside the Ecuadorian embassy, waiting to arrest Assange so he can be extradited to Sweden.

WikiLeaks is planning new releases of secret documents on controversial negotiations and intelligence agency operations.

Assange leaks 251,287 raw US cables, sparking global outcry (Telegraph 3 Sep 2011)

Assange: More leaks to come (Sydney Morning Herald 1 May 2015)

Date written/update: 2015-07-04