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Lawyer has 'surprising' news in Assange case

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Lawyer has 'surprising' news in Assange case
09:22 CEST+02:00
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's lawyer Thursday said he had key information relating to the rape claims his client was facing which would be surprising when revealed, a report said.

Baltasar Garzon, who spent hours in a briefing with Assange on Sunday discussing his legal strategy, said the defence had requested a prosecutor from Sweden travel to London to take a statement from the former hacker.

"I think that will be a very good option," he was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.

However, Swedish prosecutors on Thursday ruled out travelling to London.

"There is nothing new. We are still waiting for Mr Assange," Helena Ekstrand, spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office, told AFP when asked about the comments of Assange's lawyer Baltasar Garzon.

The 41-year-old Assange, who has been holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London since June, is wanted in Sweden for questioning over allegations of rape and molestation, claims he denies.

British authorities won their case to extradite him to Sweden but because he sought asylum in Ecuador's embassy they have so far been unable to send him there.

Assange believes Stockholm plans to hand him over to the United States, where he fears prosecution over WikiLeaks' release of a vast cache of confidential US government files.

Garzon, best known for trying to extradite Chile's Augusto Pinochet from London to Madrid in 1998, declined to go into specifics on the rape claims but said there was "fragmented knowledge" about the matter.

He reportedly said the defence was in possession of a number of fundamental elements about the allegations that when made public would be a "big surprise".

"We cannot divulge them right now but we have requested that the prosecution take a statement from Mr. Assange," he said on the sidelines of a conference in the Australian city of Brisbane.

Meanwhile, Garzon hit out at Australia, claiming Canberra had ignored requests by Assange for diplomatic assistance, including a letter sent as recently as 15 days ago.

He said the government's response had been "entirely negative".

"Not at any point in time have consular authorities visited Mr. Assange," he said.

"And I understand that to be an obligation for all citizens of Australia."

Australia insists it has offered Assange the same assistance it would give any other citizen in trouble overseas.

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