Three of the four sexual assault allegations against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange could be dropped by next week after their five-year limitation period expires.
Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London in June 2012, fearing onward extradition to the United States if he went to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning over allegations of sexual assault. Assange denies all charges.
Ecuador has repeatedly offered the Swedish authorities the opportunity to question Assange in its Embassy. Questioning is required under Swedish law before Assange can be charged.
Jen Robinson, a member of Mr Assange's legal team, told the Press Association, "By failing to question him in London under standard procedures, the Prosecutor has denied him this opportunity. Sweden's own courts found that she was in breach of her duty to progress the investigation.”
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Stockholm had insisted on questioning Assange on Swedish territory but this spring agreed to do so in the Ecuadorean Embassy.
However, the interrogation has not yet taken place despite Ecuador’s repeated offers. According to Assange’s legal team, the failure to question the Internet activist after nearly five years constitutes a violation of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Regardless of the end of the statute of limitations, Assange’s lawyer Thomas Olsson told Sputnik news on Wednesday that "It is only three of four accusations that will expire, the fourth accusation will remain in place. So it [the expiry of three charges] doesn’t mean it will have any effect on Assange’s current situation."
Assange was granted asylum due to his fears of being extradited to a third party, namely the United States, and has previously stated that he could remain in the embassy even if all the Swedish charges against him were dropped, without assurances that he would not be sent to the United States.
Assange’s legal representatives have argued that preventing him from being able to travel to Ecuador violates the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which allows for special travel arrangements for individuals who have been given asylum.