- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Julian Assange provided Wednesday his first-ever public accounting of the 2010 trip to Sweden that put the WikiLeaks founder at the center of lengthy rape probe and a multinational dispute that remain active more than six years later.

Mr. Assange’s recollection of events surrounding his August 2010 trip to Stockholm emerged in the form of a 19-page transcript circulated by WikiLeaks this week containing the statement its editor offered up to investigators last month from his residence within Ecuador’s embassy in London.

In the statement, Mr. Assange claims that he had “consensual and enjoyable” sex with his accuser and is “entirely innocent.” He recalled agreeing to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases upon the woman’s request, only to learn the following day that he was being sought by law enforcement over allegations of rape.

“You can imagine my disbelief when I woke the next morning to the news that I had been arrested in my absence for ‘rape’ and that police were ‘hunting’ all over Stockholm for me,” Mr. Assange said in the statement.

Allegations against Mr. Assange, 45, surfaced shortly before his website began releasing hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables stolen from the U.S. State Department. Despite never filing charges against the WikiLeaks chief, Swedish prosecutors have sought Mr. Assange’s arrest since 2010 in order to interrogate him over the claim.

Fear of being extradited to the U.S. and incarcerated for his role with WikiLeaks has precluded Mr. Assange from traveling abroad for interrogation, however, and Ecuador’s decision to grant him political asylum has allowed him to reside within its London embassy in the intervening years without risking arrest.

The Stockholm prosecutor’s office relented last month and agreed to let the WikiLeaks chief answer questions from within the embassy. Under a bilateral agreement, Swedish investigator assembled a list of questions that would be asked of Mr. Assange by an Ecuadorean prosecutor, the likes of which would then be transcribed and sent to Stockholm for considerations with regards to whether the case against Mr. Assange should remain open.

The Swedish Prosecutor’s Office was still waiting for Ecuador to send a transcript of his answers, Swedish media reported Tuesday. Mr. Assange took it upon himself Wednesday to make his responses republic.

“I am now releasing my statement to the public,” Mr. Assange said of the transcript. “The reason is simple. I want people to know the truth about how abusive this process has been. Furthermore, in the past the prosecution has fed partial information to tabloids that politically oppose me. It is better that my statement, which I am happy with, and which makes it obvious to all that I am innocent, sees the light in full.”

In addition to denying allegations of rape, Mr. Assange’s remarks are rife with criticism directed toward the Swedish authorities who he alleges to have depraved him of his human rights by unnecessarily prolonging a baseless investigation.

“You have subjected me to six years of unlawful, politicized detention without charge in prison, under house arrest and four and a half years at this embassy,” Mr. Assange said in the testimony. “You have been found to have subjected me to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. You have denied me effective legal representation in this process.”

An United Nations panel maintained Wednesday last month that Mr. Assange continues to be “arbitrarily detained” inside Ecuador’s London embassy, upholding an earlier decision reach by the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

A spokeswoman at the Swedish Prosecution Authority declined to comment when contacted Wednesday by Reuters, the newswire reported.

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