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2 new witnesses related to Assange case interviewed

10 Sep 2019, 00:02 ( 13 days ago)

DF-Xinhua Report
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a police vehicle arrives at the Westminster magistrates court in London, Britain, on April 11, 2019. File Photo Xinhua.

Swedish prosecutors had interviewed two new witnesses over the summer as part of the ongoing investigation into Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, the Swedish Prosecution Authority said Monday in a statement.

   They had also re-interviewed five individuals who were interviewed in 2010, the statement said.

   "During the summer, we have conducted interviews intended to verify the evidence, as nine years have passed since the suspected crime. We have concentrated on the inquiries possible to conduct here in Sweden. We have mainly re-interviewed those individuals who were interviewed in 2010, although two of the persons interviewed have not previously been interviewed," Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Eva-Marie Persson said in the statement.

   The investigation dates back to 2010, when Assange was accused of sexual molestation, coercion and rape. At the time, Assange denied the accusations but refused to be questioned in Sweden, fearing that Sweden would then extradite him to the U.S. to face conspiracy charges.

   The Swedish Prosecution Authority reopened the investigation in April 2019 after Assange lost diplomatic immunity and was arrested by the British authorities.

   Persson had planned to have Assange brought to Sweden for questioning, but in June the Swedish authority decided not to pursue extradition, meaning that Assange would have to be questioned in Britain.

   The seven witness interviews are now being transcribed and analyzed.

   "Once we have analyzed the interviews, I will decide how to proceed with the case," Persson said.

   "The investigation may then be discontinued or I may decide to conduct further inquiries. If I make the assessment that the next step is to interview Julian Assange, I will issue a European Investigation Order, in which case I shall write to the British authorities with a request to conduct an interview," said Persson.

   The limitation period expires on Aug. 20, 2020, after which the investigation would normally have to be discontinued. If a prosecution is commenced before that date and Assange is served with a summons, then the period of limitation will be extended.

   Currently, Assange is imprisoned in Britain, where he is serving 50 weeks after being convicted of violating British bail rules.

   The United States has requested that he be extradited there, where he is allegedly suspected of violating the country's laws on espionage.