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August 11, 2015

Assange sexual abuse allegations face expiry date

Statute of limitations may soon force Swedish prosecutors to abandon investigation.

By Jimmy Nicholls

Potential charges of sexual abuse against Julian Assange are set to vanish over the next week as time limits in which legal proceedings against the WikiLeaks editor are set to expire.

Swedish prosecutors are still looking to question Assange over four allegations of sexual misconduct during August 2010, including one of unlawful coercion, two of sexual molestation and one of rape.

However the former three allegations, made by the same woman, are due to pass the five-year statute of limitations in which charges can be brought by August 18, whilst the latter allegation of rape, made by another woman, is subject to a ten-year limit.

A Swedish Prosecution Authority statement obtained by the lawyer David Allen Green said: "As long as the prosecutor does not receive permission to interview Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy, there is nothing else she can do before 13-18 August. An interview is necessary for the investigation."

Assange denies all four allegations made against him.

Authorities in Sweden have been unable to question Assange – which appears to be necessary in order to charge him – because of his continued residence in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been granted asylum.

The WikiLeaks founder originally took refuge there in June 2012 as Sweden sought to extradite him from the UK in order to interviewed him.

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At the time Assange claimed he was afraid of being extradited to the US, where he fears he could face trial for his work with WikiLeaks, which played a pivotal role in leaking military intelligence given to the site by the American soldier Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley.

In June of this year a Swedish prosecutor reportedly travelled to London in a bid to interview Assange, but her attempts have apparently been frustrated by disagreement over the conditions Ecuador set before an interview could take place.

According to the Swedish justice department Ecuador demanded that it recognise Assange’s asylum status before an interview took place, a move which the Swedes maintain would contravene international law.

However the Ecuadorian embassy denied this was the case on Monday, saying: "At no point has the Republic of Ecuador asked the Kingdom of Sweden to grant Mr Assange asylum."

The embassy also maintains that no Swedish representative has been to their building to interview Assange.

Photo Credit: Cancillería del Ecuador

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