The Courier-Mail

Assange sex charges due to expire

- NOEL MENGEL CHARLES MIRANDA

MOST budding music stars head for the bright lights to start their career but Caitlyn Shadbolt is happy to call Gympie home.

The fast-rising country music star, a top-five finalist on Channel 7’s The X Factor last year, signed a record deal with ABC Music last month and her new single, Shoot Out The Lights, looks certain to follow her debut single Maps Out The Window up the Australian country charts.

“I grew up on a farm just outside of Gympie where I could make a heap of noise without upsetting the neighbours,” Shadbolt, 19, said.

“A lot of people think you have to move to the city to make it, but Gympie was such a great foundation for my career. The Australian Institute Of Country Music is here, which is like work experience for anyone who wants a career in music.

“I grew up going to the Gympie Muster, watching all the b i g names, and I played my first talent quest there when I was 14.

“That was only five years ago, so it’s a thrill to come back to the festival and play the main stage.”

The teen is also the official ambassador for the festival and charity fundraiser, which runs from August 27-30.

“Competing on The X Factor was the biggest learning curve for me. It prepared me for all the things I want to do in country music,” Shadbolt said.

Shadbolt’s self-titled debut EP will release on August 21. FUGITIVE WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could walk free from his diplomatic bolthole in London as early as next week, with sexual assault allegation­s made against him in Sweden set to expire.

The 44-year-old Australian (pictured) has been holed up at the Ecuadorean embassy in central London since June 2012 and was later granted political asylum there against extraditio­n to Sweden to face questionin­g on three counts of sexual assault and one of rape alleged by two women.

He has remained in a backroom of the embassy, next door to the Harrods department store loading dock, since then, with British police armed with arrest warrants posted outside the building 24 hours a day – at a cost so far of more than $25 million.

Swedish authoritie­s have confirmed that next week, three of the four charges against him will reach their five-year expiry date under Sweden’s statute of limitation­s and Assange will be cleared automatica­lly.

The three claims of sexual assault related to incidents in a flat in Stockholm in 2010 when he was invited to stay over by a WikiLeaks supporter and allegedly took a consensual act too far, forcing himself on the woman physically then deliberate­ly breaking a condom she demanded he use.

The fourth charge of rape has a 10-year statute of limitation­s but it was not c lear whether it would still be pursued.

In March Swedish authoritie­s had already confirmed they were prepared to offer Assange a concession and formally interview him in the embassy in London, thereby ensuring he does not need to leave the diplomatic confines and be arrested and extradited to face the claims in a Swedish court.

He has not been charged with any offence in Sweden and is only wanted there on warrant for questionin­g. He is sought in the UK for breaching bail.

“The prosecutor still wants to interview him. The prosecutor still has not got permission from Ecuador,” a spokesman for the Swedish Prosecutio­n Authority said.

A WikiLeaks spokesman said it would be “absolutely ridiculous” if the rape case were to now remain open.

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