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Sweden wants Assange DNA sample from interrogation

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Sweden wants Assange DNA sample from interrogation
Julian Assange pictured in October 2016. Photo: Markus Schreiber/Ap
11:41 CET+01:00
Julian Assange will be questioned in person next week over longstanding rape accusations, Sweden's public prosecutor's office announced on Monday, saying an Ecuadorian prosecutor would visit the WikiLeaks founder in the embassy where he has been holed up since 2012.

"Ecuador has granted the Swedish request for legal assistance in criminal matters and the hearing will be conducted by an Ecuadorian prosecutor," the public prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Through his lawyer Assange welcomed the news saying he was looking forward to the "chance to clear his name".

"We have requested this interview repeatedly since 2010," his lawyer Per Samuelsson told AFP.

"Julian Assange has always wanted to tell his version to the Swedish police. He wants a chance to clear his name," he said.

"We hope the investigation will be closed then."

The lawyer added the "shape of the questioning is under discussion."

The Swedish deputy public prosecutor Ingrid Isgren and a Swedish police inspector will also be present at the questioning on November 14.

"A DNA sample will also be taken, provided that Julian Assange agrees to it," the public prosecutor's office statement explained.

A first hearing scheduled for October with the prosecutor Toainga Wilson had been postponed at Assange's request, citing "his rights to the protection and defence of his person," according to Ecuadorian prosecutors.

The 45-year-old Australian sought refuge in Ecuador's embassy in London in June 2012, fleeing allegations of rape and sexual assault in Sweden dating back to 2010.

He had refused to travel to Sweden for questioning due to concerns that he would then be extradited to the United States over WikiLeaks' release of 500,000 secret military files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Swedish prosecutors dropped a sexual assault probe against Assange last year after its five-year statute of limitations expired, but they still want to interrogate him about a 2010 rape allegation, which carries a ten-year statute of limitations.

Assange insists the sexual encounters in question were consensual.

Last month, the Swedish prosecutor's office rejected Assange's request to temporarily suspend his arrest warrant so he could leave the Ecuadorian embassy to attend the funeral of mentor Gavin MacFayden.

WikiLeaks has meanwhile returned to the spotlight in recent weeks with the damaging leak of tens of thousands of emails from the US Democratic Party and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign.

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