Assange finds a new way to avoid rape questions

Julian Assange has found a new way to avoid answering questions from Swedish prosecutors over allegations of rape.

For years the Wikileaks founder's legal team has been calling on Swedish prosecutors to come to London and interview him in the Ecuadorian embassy. But Swedish director of public prosecutions Marianne Ny was having none of it, saying it 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".

She had a problem though, the date of the statute of limitation was approaching on the more minor of the crimes of which Assange was suspected. So she was forced to change her mind. Sweden backed down and made a formal request to interrogate him in London last year. It looked like Assange and his lawyers had won the day.

But today, it turns out this is not enough. The goalposts have been moved. Now Assange is demanding that he is interrogated by Ecuadorian officials using questions submitted by Swedish authorities.

As Eduadorian president Rafael Correa said, rather disingenuously: "This is finally going to happen, what could have been done three years ago."

Well it isn't. The Swedish prosecutor's office is more admirable in calling a spade a spade. The Ecuadorian offer is not remotely the same as saying the Swedes can come over. In a statement released moments ago, Swedish officials said – accurately – that the prosecutor general of Ecuador "has rejected, on formal grounds, the Swedish prosecutor's request to interview Assange in London".

After years of demanding the Swedes visit, it is fascinating to see how Assange's legal team respond to their agreement. After all, Assange says he's not afraid of answering the questions. He just doesn't want to be sent to Sweden, where he says he will then be deported to the US. So why this fear of being interviewed by the Swedes all of a sudden?

It seems that whatever compromise Swedish authorities are willing to offer, Assange's legal team will move the goalposts to avoid questioning.