This interview took place on the Swedish public service television news programme Aktuellt the same evening it became known that Marianne Ny would conduct interrogations with Assange in London.
Stefan Wahlberg is editor-in-chief of Dagens Juridik, Sweden’s leading outlet for legal news, published by Blendow Lexnova, a judicial information service that monitors trials, rulings, and judicial literature both locally and globally.
In this short two-minute segment, Stefan Wahlberg talks with Aktuellt presenter Cecilia Gralde.
CG: Assange will be questioned in London. But that decision should have been made a long time ago, according to an expert here on Aktuellt.
Stefan Wahlberg, editor-in-chief of Dagens Juridik, was here in the studio earlier today, and he says the decision should have been made much earlier.
SW: It’s excellent if this interrogation takes place as soon as possible, so the preliminary investigation can be completed and a decision can be made whether the case is to continue or be closed. And in my opinion, this interrogation should have been conducted much earlier.
SW: Because this is an absolute fundamental principle of jurisprudence, namely that one moves forward swiftly in such circumstances. Everyone benefits – the complainants, the state, the taxpayers, and last but not least: the accused. For the accused has a right to have crimes, for which he is suspected, investigated as swiftly as possible.
CG: But at the same time, there is a principle that one should be present for interrogations. Why should this not apply to Assange?
SW: Because he actually has no responsibility to participate as suspect in an investigation – but he does have the right to not participate. This follows from a fundamental principle laid out by, amongst others, the European Commission. It’s the prosecutor who conducts investigations, it’s the prosecutor who has a responsibility to see that an interrogation is held with the suspect. It’s not the suspect’s responsibility to see that the prosecutor fulfills her duties.
CG: So this principle doesn’t apply to everyone?
SW: You mean if there’s a principle that Julian Assange should have a duty to be present for questioning?
CG: No, I mean generally – that suspects don’t have a duty to be present for questioning.
SW: No, there is no such responsibility. But on the other hand, one can say that for a suspect, it can be a good way to get the preliminary investigation completed as soon as possible. Absolutely.