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Julian Assange: What are the sexual assault allegations and why has it taken six years for him to be interviewed?

By Steve Cannane

Over four years after he was granted asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Julian Assange is set to be interviewed over allegations of sexual assault.

Here is all you need to know about the allegations and why it has taken six years for him to be interviewed.

What are the allegations?

The allegations centre on a trip Mr Assange made to Stockholm in August 2010.

Two women, referred to as Miss A and Miss W, claim that in separate instances they had consensual sex with Mr Assange that became non-consensual when he refused to wear a condom.

The WikiLeaks founder denies the allegations and has not been charged.

Three of the allegations relating to Miss A have already expired due to the statue of limitations. The questioning will be based on a rape allegation made by Miss W which does not expire until 2020.

In 2010 Miss A and Miss W got in touch with each other after the alleged sexual assaults took place, compared stories and went to the police. Soon after the Swedish prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for Mr Assange.

He was questioned by police and the arrest warrant was cancelled.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Marianne Ny, then ordered that the investigation be reopened.

What happened next?

By the time a Swedish court ruled that Mr Assange should be detained for questioning, he had flown back to London (after being granted permission to do so by Swedish authorities).

His legal team insists he then made himself available for interview at either the Swedish embassy or via video link. Sweden issued an international arrest warrant for him.

In December 2010 Mr Assange handed himself in to British police.

He was granted bail at the High Court after a number of high-profile supporters, including journalist Jemima Khan and filmmaker Ken Loach, stumped up cash and guarantees worth 240,000 pounds ($400,662).

In 2011, a British court ruled that Mr Assange should be extradited to Sweden. His lawyers fought the decision fearing he would end up being extradited to the US from Sweden to face some form of espionage charge relating to the top-secret information he had published via WikiLeaks.

Papers released during legal proceedings in 2014 showed that the US Department of Justice and the FBI had WikiLeaks under “a multi-subject investigation”.

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A court document from March 2016 confirmed the investigation was ongoing.

In May 2012 the Supreme Court ruled that Sweden’s extradition request had been lawfully made. Mr Assange was given 14 days to challenge the decision.

The following month Mr Assange sought political asylum at Ecuador’s embassy in London. Police surrounded the embassy threatening to arrest him for breaching his bail conditions.

In August 2012 the WikiLeaks founder was granted asylum. He has been in the Ecuadorian embassy ever since.

Why has he not been interviewed until now?

Mr Assange insists he has been available for interview in London for the last six years.

In 2010, the prosecutor in charge of the case, Marianne Ny, said Swedish law prevented her from questioning anyone by video link or in the London embassy.

She later admitted it was legally possible, but refused to budge, saying that questioning him in the embassy “would lower the quality of the interview”.

In March 2015, Ms Ny changed her mind and said she was willing to interrogate Mr Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Since then the process has been caught up in bureaucratic and diplomatic delays.

Ecuador set the date for the questioning to take place on October 17 this year, but that date was changed to November 14 at the request of Mr Assange’s legal team.

How will it work?

Swedish prosecutors say an Ecuadorian prosecutor will conduct the interview and that Sweden’s chief prosecutor, Ingrid Isgren, and a police investigator can ask questions through the Ecuadorian prosecutor.

A report on the interview will be given to the Swedish prosecutor who will then evaluate whether the investigation should continue or not.

If Sweden eventually drops the investigation and Mr Assange leaves the embassy he could then be arrested for breaching his bail conditions.

Making sure Mr Assange did not escape from the Ecuadorian embassy has been an operation that has cost UK police over 11 million pounds ($18.3 million).

This post originally appeared on ABC News.


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