Ecuador sets date for Assange’s questioning

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will submit to questions in the presence of Swedish officials on October 17th at Ecuador's embassy in London, Ecuador said on Tuesday.

Ecuador sets date for Assange's questioning
Julian Assange. Photo: AP Photo/Frank Augstein

The Australian has been holed up in the embassy since June 2012, when he took refuge there to escape extradition to Sweden to face a rape accusation.

Ecuador's attorney general's office said the judicial procedures would begin on October 17th although the questions submitted by the Swedish prosecutors would not necessarily be put to him on the same day.

Ecuadoran prosecutor Wilson Toainga has been tasked with taking Assange's statement, it said.

“Toainga will take the statement based on a list of questions submitted by the Swedish justice ministry,” the office said, adding that he also would be responsible for “the possible taking of samples of body fluids” from Assange.

Two Swedish officials – Ingrid Isgren and Cecilia Redell – have been authorized to be present during the proceedings, it said.

Assange, 45, who denies the rape accusation, has said he fears the Swedes will turn him over to the United States to face charges for publishing a massive trove of US military and diplomatic documents.

In May, a Swedish court reaffirmed an international arrest order against Assange, rejecting the finding of a UN working group that his confinement in the Ecuadoran embassy amounted to arbitrary detention. Britain also rejected the finding of the UN group, which is not binding.

The Svea Court of Appeal is to decide on Friday whether or not to uphold the arrest warrant.


Spanish ring ‘tried to extort €3m from Wikileaks’: Assange lawyers

Julian Assange's lawyers have filed a court complaint in Spain against a group of Spaniards they allege extorted the WikiLeaks founder and Ecuador's foreign ministry, a source in his defence team said on Saturday.

Spanish ring 'tried to extort €3m from Wikileaks': Assange lawyers
A video grab shows Julian Assange being driven away by British police after his arrest. Photo: AFP
Assange, who for seven years lived holed up in London's Ecuadoran embassy where he had taken refuge to avoid extradition to Sweden on rape accusations, was arrested on April 11 after Quito terminated his asylum.
The 47-year-old founder of WikiLeaks, which exposed everything from US military secrets to the wealthy's tax evasion, is now awaiting sentencing for breaching his British bail conditions in 2012.
The source, who wished to remain anonymous, said the complaint was against “a group of Spaniards who allegedly engaged in extortion and the embassy's employees and Ecuador's foreign ministry.”
The source added an investigation was ongoing and alleged “espionage” in the embassy against Assange, refusing to give further details.
According to Spanish media reports, four Spaniards have videos and personal documents of Assange. Online daily said they somehow got these via an alleged spying system set up in the embassy that included security cameras and employees taking photos of all documents handled by Assange.
They allegedly tried to extort three million euros ($3.3 million) out of WikiLeaks not to publish any of it, Spanish media report., which had access to the written complaint that was filed to Spain's top-level National Court, says Assange's lawyers also accuse Ecuador of spying on him. The National Court could not comment when contacted by AFP.
That contrasts with Ecuadoran President Lenin Moreno's version of events. In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, he alleged Assange had tried to set up a “centre for spying” in Ecuador's embassy.
Last year, Quito cut his internet and mobile phone access, accusing him of breaking “a written commitment” not to interfere in its and allies' foreign policies.
The move infuriated Assange, who sued the government for violating his “fundamental rights” by limiting his access to the outside world.
Now in prison in Britain, Assange is also fighting a US extradition warrant relating to the release by WikiLeaks of a huge cache of official documents.