Ecuador says Julian Assange can’t stay in its London embassy indefinitely
Ecuador reminded WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange once again Tuesday that he can’t stay in the nation’s London embassy indefinitely.
Foreign Minister Jose Valencia said a permanent stay in the embassy’s cramped quarters isn’t a viable option for anyone.
“It wouldn’t be good for his state of mind, his health,” Valencia told broadcaster Teleamazonas.
The remarks come as relations between Ecuador and Assange grow increasingly tense. The Australian has been cooped up in Ecuador’s British embassy for more than six years, frequently butting heads with officials over everything from his brash statements on foreign affairs to the hygiene of his cat.
Assange took refuge in the embassy in 2012 to escape extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning on sexual misconduct allegations.
Though a rape accusation was later dropped, there is still an active warrant for his arrest in Britain for failing to comply with his bail terms. Assange also fears the possibility of extradition to the U.S. for publishing thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables through WikiLeaks.
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WikiLeaks claimed on Twitter last week that high-level sources had said Assange would be kicked out of the embassy within “hours to days.”
Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno has accused WikiLeaks of spreading allegations of offshore corruption and leaking family photos on social media. He accused WikiLeaks of intercepting phone calls as well as “photos of my bedroom, what I eat, and how my wife and daughters and friends dance.”
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WikiLeaks issued a statement calling Moreno’s accusations “completely bogus.”
Valencia said Tuesday that if Assange were to appear before the British justice system he would be guaranteed a fair trial and right to a defence.
Ecuador has nonetheless maintained Assange’s asylum status, and a senior official recently told The Associated Press that no decision had been taken to expel him from the embassy.
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