Why Not Interview Assange in London? The Answer!

The often asked question by Assange apologists and excusers is:

#Assange must answer sex claims. But first he must be interviewed by Swedes. Why not do this in UK? Swedes interview other suspects abroad “

The answer is to be found in the Assange judgment:

“142. Mr Assange contended prior to the hearing before the Senior District Judge that the warrant had been issued for the purpose of questioning Mr Assange rather than prosecuting him and that he was not accused of an offence. In response to that contention, shortly before that hearing, Mrs Ny provided a signed statement dated 11 February 2011 on behalf of the Prosecutor:

“6. A domestic warrant for [Julian Assange’s] arrest was upheld [on] 24 November 2010 by the Court of Appeal, Sweden. An arrest warrant was issued on the basis that Julian Assange is accused with probable cause of the offences outlined on the EAW.

7. According to Swedish law, a formal decision to indict may not be taken at the stage that the criminal process is currently at. Julian Assange’s case is currently at the stage of “preliminary investigation”. It will only be concluded when Julian Assange is surrendered to Sweden and has been interrogated.

8. The purpose of a preliminary investigation is to investigate the crime. provide underlying material on which to base a decision concerning prosecution and prepare the case so that all evidence can be presented at trial. Once a decision to indict has been made, an indictment is filed with the court. In the case of a person in pre-trial detention, the trial must commence within 2 weeks. Once started, the trial may not be adjourned. It can, therefore be seen that the formal decision to indict is made at an advanced stage of the criminal proceedings. There is no easy analogy to be drawn with the English criminal procedure. I issued the EAW because I was satisfied that there was substantial and probable cause to accuse Julian Assange of the offences.

9. It is submitted on Julian Assange’s behalf that it would be possible for me to interview him by way of Mutual Legal Assistance. This is not an appropriate course in Assange’s case. The preliminary investigation is at an advanced stage and I consider that is necessary to interrogate Assange, in person, regarding the evidence in respect of the serious allegations made against him.

10. Once the interrogation is complete. it may be that further questions need to be put to witnesses or the forensic scientists. Subject to any matters said by him, which undermine my present view that he should be indicted, an indictment will be lodged with the court thereafter. It can therefore be seen that Assange is sought for the purpose of conducting criminal proceedings and that he is not sought merely to assist with our enquiries.”

(H/T: David Allen Green)

Update 1: This useful post expands on the issues:

“It is not true that Assange is only wanted for questioning. The next step in the Swedish proceedings is to conduct a second interview with him before making a decision whether to formally charge him. The prosecutor is presently disposed to charge him, unless any new evidence emerges that might change her mind.

If a decision is taken to formally charge him, Assange would face trial within two weeks of that decision being made. It is difficult to see how this could happen if the final interview takes place in the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge. Even if he were interviewed in the embassy, if a decision was then taken to formally charge him, it is somewhat difficult to believe that Assange would suddenly renounce his claim to asylum in Ecuador.

In these circumstances it is difficult to see why Sweden would or should agree to interview Assange in London rather than continue to push for extradition so that they can follow their usual procedures in due course. No other fugitive from justice gets to bargain with the authorities about the way in which their case will be dealt with. I don’t see why Assange should be any different. “

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