By MATTHEW RENDA
(CN) – A Swedish prosecutor questioned Wikileaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on Monday as both sides seek to resolve a six-year legal stalemate relating to allegations of sexual assault.
Swedish prosecutor Ingrid Isgren arrived at the embassy under a prearranged agreement that stipulated Isgren could submit questions to an Ecuadorian prosecutor, who then relayed them to Assange.
Under the complicated agreement, the Ecuadorian prosecutor will prepare a report on the interview and Assange’s response to the questions. The report will be passed to Isgren, who will decide whether to file charges.
The legal entanglement stems from events beginning in August 2010, when two women who had separate sexual relations with Assange attempted to track him down for testing of a sexually transmitted disease.
After contacting police, Swedish special prosecutor Eva Finne conducted an investigation and eventually issued an opinion that no rape was committed.
However, the Swedish Prosecution Authority has maintained they suspect Assange of molestation and assigned a new prosecutor to the case. Assange has yet to be formally charged, but is fighting extradition to Sweden because he believes Sweden will instead hand him over to the United States over possible espionage charges relating to his publication of a trove of diplomatic cables in November 2010.
Assange fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid charges, where he has been holed up for the past six years. He has maintained his innocence and repeatedly asserted the rape charges are trumped up and an attempt to discredit him personally in a textbook case in political retaliation and whistleblower persecution.
Assange’s case appeared to be bolstered in February, when the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention culminated an 18-month investigation into the Assange case with the conclusion that the United Kingdom and Sweden were unreasonably depriving the Wikileaks editor of his liberty.
“The Working Group also views that Mr. Assange’s stay at the Embassy of the Republic of Ecuador in London to this date should be considered as a prolongation of the already continued deprivation of liberty that had been conducted in breach of the principles of reasonableness, necessity and proportionality,” the group stated in its final published report.
“After U.N. and court findings condemning six years of abuses by Sweden against Assange, Sweden finally takes his statement for the first time ever,” Wikileaks tweeted through its official account on Monday.
Swedish courts have also been divided regarding the Assange case, with numerous appeals and hearings before the nation’s highest court.
Assange was the darling of the left and object of the right’s vitriol after he disclosed diplomatic cables in 2010. But the love and hate has waned in the days since Wikileaks essentially acted as an opposition research arm for President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign.
Wikileaks dumped more than 50,000 emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta, showing the inner mechanics of a campaign destined to fall short. In the aftermath of Trump’s ascension to the highest office, more people from both sides of the aisle are questioning the methods and agenda of the Wikileaks editor.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.