Ecuador sets October date for Assange questioning

Ecuador sets October date for Assange questioning

Quito (AFP) - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has agreed to answer questions from Swedish investigators probing rape allegations against him from October 17 in Ecuador's embassy in London, Ecuadoran justice officials said Tuesday.

The Australian has been holed up in the embassy since June 2012, when he took refuge there to escape extradition to Sweden to face a police investigation into the rape claims.

Ecuadoran prosecutor Wilson Toainga has been tasked with taking Assange's statement in response to questions submitted beforehand by Swedish officials, who will be present during the process.

"Toainga will take the statement based on a list of questions submitted by the Swedish justice ministry," the office said, adding that he also would be responsible for "the possible taking of samples of body fluids" from Assange.

Two Swedish officials -- prosecutor Ingrid Isgren and police officer Cecilia Redell -- have been authorized to be present during the proceedings which will start on October 17, it said.

The attorney general's office said the questions submitted by Sweden would not necessarily be put to him the same day.

Swedish prosecutors contacted by AFP on Tuesday did not comment on the announcement from Ecuador.

Assange, 45, who denies the rape accusation, fears the Swedes will turn him over to the United States to face charges for publishing a massive trove of US military and diplomatic documents.

He has previously welcomed the idea of Swedish prosecutors travelling to London to take his statement.

In May, a Swedish court reaffirmed an international arrest order against Assange, rejecting the finding of a UN working group that his confinement in the Ecuadoran embassy amounted to arbitrary detention.

Britain also rejected the finding of the UN group, which is not binding.

A Swedish appeal court is due to rule on the arrest order on Friday.