Ken McGregor and Charles Miranda, News Limited Network, August 27, 2012 10:30PM
AUSTRALIAN-born anti-secrecy campaigner and accused rapist Julian Assange could be extradited from London to Sweden within weeks after a diplomatic storm between Britain and Ecuador blew over, law experts said yesterday.
The development comes amid speculation over a photograph that lawyers for Assange say could help exonerate him of sexual assault charges.
The image apparently shows one of the women he is accused of raping, smiling with him at a function two days after the alleged offence.
The government of the South American country that granted Assange political asylum said it would return to the negotiating table after the British Foreign Office reaffirmed it had no intention of invading Ecuador's embassy, where he has been holed up, and taking him into custody.
The Australian Lawyers Alliance said the talks could result in Assange's offer of asylum falling through and him sent to Sweden in a few weeks to face the charges though the body noted negotiations may stretch for much longer.
Alliance president Tony Kerin blamed Swedish authorities for the extradition deadlock.
He said Swedish police should come to Britain to interview Assange to determine if there was a case to answer against the Queensland-born activist.
"It is disappointing that option has not been explored,'' Mr Kerin said.
Assange and his supporters fear any extradition to Sweden will lead to him being shipped to the US to answer charges arising from WilkLeaks' disclosures of US diplomatic cables.
Both the Ecuadorian Government and Assange have agreed to co-operate with Swedish authorities if they pursue the option of interviewing him within the embassy's walls.
Assange has been living in the embassy since June. UK media reports say he hopes the new photo - published in the Mail on Sunday - could help him find freedom.
It was released amid reports that in the 48 hours following the alleged assault, the victim attended a conference with Assange and dined with him before tweeting she was "with the world's coolest, smartest people''.
A friend of Assange who attended the dinner where the photo was taken said it was a "jolly occasion".
The woman is one of two who have told Swedish police that Assange sexually assaulted them in 2010. He allegedly molested the second one three days after the first, who is in the picture.
PHOTOS removed, please check sourced link to view them.