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Assange And Sweden Agree: He'll Be Questioned In London

Julian Assange (left) is happy with a new offer from Sweden, his lawyers say. He's seen here with American linguist and writer Noam Chomsky on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where the WikiLeaks founder sought refuge to avoid extradition.

Julian Assange's lawyers say the WikiLeaks founder is happy with a plan to have Swedish prosecutors question him in London, after Sweden softened its insistence that he be extradited to answer sexual assault allegations.

Assange has been living in Ecuador's London embassy for nearly three years.

"He is willing to co-operate fully now in conducting this interrogation," Assange's lawyer, Per Samuelson, tells the BBC World Service. "This is a great victory for him."

From London, NPR's Ari Shapiro reports for our Newscast unit:

"Since 2010, prosecutors had insisted on questioning Assange in Sweden. Now they say they will question him and administer a DNA test in London.

"That's because the charges against Assange will expire in August, under Sweden's statute of limitations. Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny said in a statement, 'Time is of the essence.'

"Assange's lawyer Per Samuelson welcomed the move, telling the AP, 'This is something we've demanded for over four years.'

"The sexual assault charges are separate from accusations that Assange broke the law by publishing thousands of secret documents about American and British surveillance programs."

Assange has remained in hiding out of concern that if he is taken into custody, he might eventually be extradited to the United States to face accusations over WikiLeaks' publication of U.S. documents.

The development could begin a process that helps the countries involved move beyond what has has become an expensive international dispute. British police have reportedly spent millions of dollars guarding the embassy to ensure Assange doesn't slip past them.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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