Sweden optimistic over questioning Assange in London
Swedish officials said they are optimistic about reaching an agreement with Ecuador on legal assistance which could pave the way to questioning WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London on outstanding accusations against him.
Last month, prosecutors dropped cases of alleged sexual misconduct against the 44-year-old Australian, who has avoided extradition to Sweden by sheltering in Ecuador's embassy in London since 2012. But they say they want to question him about accusations of rape made after his visit to the Scandinavian country five years ago.
Justice ministry spokeswoman Cecilia Riddselius said talks between Swedish officials and their counterparts in Ecuador had been "very good, very constructive" and could lead to a general agreement on legal cooperation "in time for Christmas".
Assange denies all accusations against him and has welcomed being questioned at the London embassy.
Ms Riddselius said they had not discussed the Assange case, which is the domain of the prosecution authority, but she hopes the agreement could be applied.
"Of course, the aim is that this general agreement on legal assistance will be applicable in this individual case," she said. "We have not had an agreement between the two countries that would have been applicable in the case."
Assange's lawyer in Sweden, Thomas Olsson, said he had no details about the talks, but that Assange has welcomed the idea of questioning in London "for some time".
"He has asked the prosecutor to come to London and interview him for several years now, but the prosecutor has denied to accept it," Mr Olsson said. "He has been convinced that as soon as he has told his version of the facts the prosecutor will have to shut down the investigation."
The prosecutor's office declined to comment on the talks or investigation.