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Sweden and Ecuador at odds over interrogation

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07:05 CET+01:00
An interrogation of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over a rape allegation could be delayed further after Swedish and Ecuadoran prosecutors clashed on who should be doing the questioning.

Swedish authorities said on Thursday that Ecuador had refused a request to let a Swedish prosecutor quiz Assange at its London embassy, because it wanted an Ecuadoran prosecutor to ask the questions.

Ecuador rejected “on formal grounds” the Swedish prosecutor's request to interrogate Assange in the Ecuadoran embassy in London, the Swedish authority said in a statement.

The Ecuadoran capital Quito said in a letter sent to the prosecution agency that an Ecuadoran prosecutor would interrogate Assange if the Swedish prosecutor provided a list of questions.

Chief prosecutor Marianne Ny said her office was “now considering whether this affects the possibility of carrying out the investigation”.

She said her office would mull whether to submit a new request to Ecuadoran authorities.

READ ALSO: Ecuador says Assange to be quizzed 'soon'

Swedish prosecutors would like to make headway in the case that has been deadlocked for nearly five years, after a Swedish woman accused the WikiLeaks founder of rape during his 2010 visit to Stockholm. He denies the rape allegation and insists the encounter was consensual.

Prosecutors offered in March to question Assange in London, dropping their previous demand that he come to Sweden to answer to the 2010 allegations.

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But Quito refused to allow such a meeting until a bilateral judicial agreement was in place. That deal was finally reached in December.

Assange, who is wanted under an international arrest warrant, faces arrest if he tries to leave the Ecuadoran embassy.

The Australian fears that if he leaves he could eventually face extradition to the United States and a trial over the leak of hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents in 2010.

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