Ecuador: Assange to be questioned in London embassy

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stands on the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. on Feb. 5, 2016.(Photo: Frank Augstein, AP)


LONDON —<span style="color: Red;">*</span>Ecuador says<span style="color: Red;">*</span>a date for Swedish prosecutors to question WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at its embassy in the British capital<span style="color: Red;">*</span>will be set “in the coming weeks.”
The development is a possible breakthrough in an<span style="color: Red;">*</span>impasse that has seen Assange holed up in Ecuador's embassy for more than four years.
Assange sought political asylum at the embassy in<span style="color: Red;">*</span>June 2012 after he was accused of involvement in a<span style="color: Red;">*</span>suspected rape case in Sweden, an allegation he denies. He fears that if he is extradited to Sweden he will then be sent to the United States for prosecution over WikiLeaks’<span style="color: Red;">*</span>publication of thousands of diplomatic letters.
The<span style="color: Red;">*</span>U.S. Justice Department<span style="color: Red;">*</span>has said it is considering<span style="color: Red;">*</span>charging him<span style="color: Red;">*</span>with<span style="color: Red;">*</span>espionage in relation to the documents.
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Last year, Ecuador said it agreed to a Swedish proposal to interview Assange at the embassy and in a statement Wednesday,<span style="color: Red;">*</span> the government said<span style="color: Red;">*</span>that a date for Assange to be questioned would soon be set.
“It means that a questioning can make the case go forward. This is decisive to be able to take a decision whether to formally charge him or not,” Swedish Prosecution Authority spokeswoman Karin Rosander told the Associated Press.
Assange’s defense team said it welcomed the development, which<span style="color: Red;">*</span>it said “comes after six years of complete inaction on the part of the Swedish prosecutor,” the AP reported.
In February,<span style="color: Red;">*</span>a<span style="color: Red;">*</span>United Nations<span style="color: Red;">*</span>panel said that Assange was arbitrarily detained by British and Swedish authorities since his arrest in 2010 and should be allowed to leave<span style="color: Red;">*</span>the embassy<span style="color: Red;">*</span>without facing arrest.<span style="color: Red;">*</span>British police have said he<span style="color: Red;">*</span>would immediately be<span style="color: Red;">*</span>arrested<span style="color: Red;">*</span>and face extradition if he steps outside.
Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry said the procedures to be followed did not affect the U.N.<span style="color: Red;">*</span>group's conclusions.
"The Foreign Ministry of Ecuador reiterates its commitment to the asylum granted to Australian citizen Julian Assange in August 2012, and reaffirms that the protection of<span style="color: Red;">*</span>the Ecuadorian state shall continue while the circumstances persist<span style="color: Red;">*</span>that led to the granting of asylum, namely fears of political persecution,” it said.




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