Swedish seek ‘clarification’ over Assange

Swedish authorities say they are seeking “clarification” after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange agreed to be interviewed by a Swedish prosecutor in London.

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Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy since June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where prosecutors issued an arrest warrant after two women accused him of sexual assault in 2010.

“As soon as it becomes clear that there are no obstacles for the planned investigation, we will submit a request for legal assistance to British authorities to further continue the investigation,” Director of Public Prosecutions Marianne Ny said on Friday.

Ny said a request will also be sent to Ecuador for permission to conduct the interview at its embassy in London. It was not possible to say when the interview could be held, she added.

In an email sent to prosecutors on Thursday, Assange’s attorneys said he was willing to participate in a recorded interview and that he would give a new DNA sample after already providing one in 2010.

The Australian national “might wish to exercise his right to have legal representatives from relevant jurisdictions present during the interview,” they added.

Earlier proposals to interview Assange in London were rejected by prosecutors, who argued there was no value in questioning him there since a trial would most likely have to take place in Sweden.

Ny, however, said it was now necessary to conduct the interview as some of the crimes Assange is suspected of “will be subject to statute of limitation in August 2015.”

Ecuador granted Assange asylum after he said he feared extradition to the United States, where he is wanted in connection with WikiLeaks’ publication of top secret diplomatic cables.

Sharks dodged DCE bullet, says Flanagan

Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan says the Sharks might have had a lucky escape by missing out on Daly Cherry-Evans, amid speculation the Test star may renege on his NRL move to Gold Coast.

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The Sharks were in the hunt for the Manly playmaker, who met Flanagan and club officials in March, before announcing he would leave the Sea Eagles to sign for the Titans.

However, on Thursday, it emerged Cherry-Evans might be having second thoughts about making the move to southeast Queensland and – with contracts not valid for 2016 until round 13 – he’s within his rights to backflip on any agreement.

“I am not real keen on players backflipping if there is a deal there,” Flanagan said.

“I’d be really disappointed if it was us and we missed out on signing a really big player … I would have made sure our CEO had that contract watertight even though there is that window of opportunity.

“We might have dodged a bullet there, but there are things that go on at football clubs.

“I am sure Gold Coast fans will be disappointed and Manly fans will be cheering.”

Contract negotiations are also taking place between the Sharks and skipper Paul Gallen with the NSW captain’s representatives meeting chief executive Lyall Gorman on Thursday.

Gallen expressed fears earlier this week he would be squeezed out of the club with an agreement yet to be signed, but Flanagan insisted there was no way the 34-year-old would be allowed to leave.

“It’s work in progress. His management and our CEO met yesterday and, by all accounts, it went well,” Flanagan said.

“There’s been a lot of media speculation, but Paul Gallen will be here in 2016.”

The Sharks’ big money off-season signing Ben Barba insists he’s happy to be a bench player and claims he has no divine right to a place in the starting line-up.

Barba enjoyed his best game since his arrival from Brisbane last Friday against Newcastle with his first try after coming off the sidelines to help engineer a 22-6 win.

He’ll start in the No.14 shirt on Monday against South Sydney after recovering from a slight knee injury and says he’s just happy to be part of a winning team again having lost his first three games with the club.

“It was a bit different coming off the bench, but I enjoyed it … some of the bigger guys are a bit more tired and I can run around them,” he said.

“I am happy to play wherever is best for the team, whether that be off the bench, fullback or five-eighth.”

Pardew targets top 10 before Palace spending spree

Pardew, who took over as manager in January, has steered the club away from the bottom three and last weekend’s 4-1 victory over Sunderland ensured Palace have won 10 out of their last 15 matches in all competitions.

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Palace’s rapid rise has taken them to 11th in the table on 42 points and they trail ninth-placed West Ham United and Stoke City, in 10th, by a point with six games remaining.

“The most important thing is to secure a top 10 finish, and it’s a realistic aim,” Pardew told a news conference on Friday.

“We’re in a terrific mood, in terms of confidence. We have great momentum. We’re more expansive now, we have a great attacking set up.

“Then we have to build on that. The chairman has done a fantastic job here and it will probably be a big challenge for him in the summer.

“I will be banging his door down about some big signings to come to Palace, and he has to do what’s right — for Crystal Palace — and what’s right for me.”

Former Palace manager Tony Pulis brings his 14th-placed West Bromwich Albion side to Selhurst Park on Saturday.

Pulis, who guided the club away from the relegation zone last season and to an 11th-placed finish, quit two days before the start of the campaign but Pardew believes he will receive a warm reception from the home fans.

“Tony’s return adds an extra dimension in so much as he achieved fantastic results here last season,” Pardew said.

“I wouldn’t be here and a lot of these players wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t done that, so we are thankful to him.

“He should also be thankful that we are in the position we are in. The reception tomorrow could have been very different if we were in the relegation zone with him leaving so shortly before the season started.”

(Reporting by Michael Hann; Editing Douglas Beattie)

Problems mount for Bayern as long-time team doctor quits

Mueller-Wohlfahrt, a respected doctor, had been in charge since 1977 and has also treated many other top global athletes, including sprinter Usain Bolt while also being the German national football team doctor.

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“After the Champions League game at Porto for unexplained reasons it was the medical department that was chiefly blamed for the defeat,” Mueller-Wohlfahrt said in a late night statement on Thursday.

He said “the relationship of trust has been permanently damaged.”

Bayern made a brief statement on his departure prior to their weekly news conference with coach Pep Guardiola, saying they “regretfully took note” of his decision.

“Especially Dr. Mueller-Wohlfahrt, but also his team, have in the past years offered the club and its players first rate work. For that we are expressly thankful,” the club said in a statement.

Bayern have been struggling with injuries in recent weeks with Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Medhi Benatia and David Alaba all missing in their loss to the Portuguese team on Wednesday.

The ties with Guardiola who took over in 2014 were tense from the first season with midfielder Thiago Alcantara being sent for treatment to Barcelona by the Spanish coach without consulting the team doctor.

The most recent incident was involving Ribery. The player was initially ruled out for a few days with an injury but the winger has already missed the last five weeks.

“It was his decision to leave,” Guardiola told reporters. “I respect his decision. That is all.”

Mueller-Wohlfahrt’s resignation comes at a crucial time for Bayern, who are chasing a treble of titles, entering the crucial phase of the season.

Bayern, who are 10 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga, face Borussia Dortmund in the German Cup last four and have to overturn the 3-1 deficit against Porto in the return leg in Munich next week.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)