Julian Assange’s legal team has welcomed an announcement by Swedish prosecutors that they’re willing to interview the WikiLeaks founder in Ecuador’s embassy in London where he’s been holed up for almost three years.
Prosectors on Friday asked Assange’s legal team whether the Australian would consent to being interviewed in London and have his DNA taken via a swab.
Assange’s lawyer Per Samuelson said the 43-year-old would likely accept the offer after reviewing it in detail.
“This is something we’ve demanded for over four years,” Mr Samuelson told Associated Press.
“Julian Assange wants to be interviewed so he can be exonerated. So of course we welcome this.”
The WikiLeaks founder is wanted for questioning in Sweden over allegations he sexually assaulted two women during a visit to the Scandinavian country.
Assange denies the allegations.
The Court of Appeal in Stockholm late last year refused the Australian’s request to set aside a detention order granted in late 2010.
But in the process the court noted the investigation had ground to a halt and stated “the failure of the prosecutors to examine alternative avenues is not in line with their obligation … to move the preliminary investigation forward”.
Prosecutor Marianne Ny on Friday said she was now willing to travel to London because the statute of limitations on some of the alleged crimes would become effective in August.
“My view has always been that to perform an interview with him at the Ecuadorian embassy in London would lower the quality of the interview and he would need to be present in Sweden in any case should there be a trial,” Ms Ny said in a statement.
“This assessment remains unchanged.
“(But) now that time is of the essence I have viewed it therefore necessary to accept such deficiencies to the investigation and likewise take the risk that the interview does not move the case forward.”
Assange’s legal team previously argued prosecutors had unreasonably dragged out the investigation by refusing to interview him in London.
After losing a UK legal battle against extradition Assange entered Ecuador’s diplomatic mission in June 2012 and was granted political asylum two months later.
The Australian fears if he goes to Sweden he’ll be extradited to the United States and charged over WikiLeaks’ release of classified documents.