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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could be questioned in London and have a DNA sample taken over longstanding sex assault and rape allegations, Swedish prosecutors said Friday.
The Australian has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden.
Assange denies the sex claims, which date back almost five years, and fears that if he is sent to Sweden he could be further extradited to the U.S. over one of the largest information leaks in history.
Prosecutors in Stockholm had previously refused to travel to London to question him, but said Friday they are willing to compromise because some of his alleged crimes reach their statute of limitations in August.
“My view has always been that to perform an interview with him at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London would lower the quality of the interview, and that he would need to be present in Sweden in any case should there be a trial in the future,” Sweden’s Director of Public Prosecutions Marianne Ny said in a statement. “This assessment remains unchanged. Now that time is of the essence, I have viewed it therefore necessary to accept such deficiencies to the investigation.”
If a visit occurred, a DNA sample would be taken from Assange at the embassy, the statement said.
"We welcome and see it also as a big victory ... for Julian Assange that what we have demanded is finally going to happen," Assange’s lawyer, Per Samuelson, told Reuters.
However, he warned that the process “could take time.”
Assange is accused by two women of sexual misconduct and rape while on a visit to Sweden in 2010.
He denies the allegations and sought asylum from Ecuador in order to avoid a 2012 extradition order. He has been stuck inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since June 19, 2012.