News / Europe

    Wikileaks' Assange Seeks Exit From Ecuador's London Embassy

    Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino (L) and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speak during a press conference inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he confirmed he "will be leaving the embassy soon", Monday Aug. 18, 2014.
    Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino (L) and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speak during a press conference inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he confirmed he "will be leaving the embassy soon", Monday Aug. 18, 2014.
    VOA News

    Wikileaks founder Julian Assange says he may leave the embassy of Ecuador in London where he has sought political asylum for the past two years.

    During a news conference with Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino, Assange confirmed a Wikileaks spokesman's statement he would leave the embassy "soon." Assange did not offer further details.

    Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadoran embassy 2012 when British courts said he could be extradited to Sweden for allegations of sexual misconduct there.

    • Members of the media wait outside the Ecuadorian embassy during a news conference for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in central London, Aug. 18, 2014.
    • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (right) listens as Ecuador's Foreign Affairs Minister Ricardo Patino (second from right) speaks during a news conference at the Ecuadorian embassy, in central London, Aug. 18, 2014.
    • Police stand guard during a news conference by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy, in central London, Aug. 18, 2014.
    • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures during a news conference at the Ecuadorian embassy, in central London, Aug. 18, 2014.


    The Australian former journalist fears Sweden would hand him over to the United States, where he likely would face trial for one of the largest leaks of classified material in American history.

    Assange and his Wikileaks team published hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. documents, including military documents on the Iraq war and U.S. embassy cables detailing its dealings with countries around the world.  

    Wikileaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said "let us hope that he leaves the embassy very soon," but added Assange would only leave if the British authorities dropped their decision to extradite him.

    The British government says it has spent $10 million policing the embassy to ensure Assange does not flee the country.

    Patino said he hopes his government could meet with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond to discuss the situation.

    'Call off the Siege'

    WikiLeaks began releasing thousands of confidential U.S. documents on the Internet in 2010. That embarrassed the United States, and some critics say it put national security and people's lives at risk.

    Ecuador later granted Assange political asylum. But he was unable to leave Britain and has ended up living in the embassy's cramped quarters in central London.

    His comments briefly raised the possibility of his leaving imminently. But Kristinn Hrafnsson, his spokesman, told reporters that he could only do so if the British government “calls off the siege outside”. Assange had no intention of handing himself over to the police, he added.

    Ecuador's Patino said he would try to hold talks with his British counterpart to resolve the case. Recent changes to British extradition laws may mean Assange would not be facing extradition if his case had just started.

    Britain's Foreign Office said it remained as committed as ever to reaching a diplomatic solution to the problem, but it reiterated that Assange still needed to be extradited.

    “As ever we look to Ecuador to help bring this difficult, and costly, situation to an end,” a spokeswoman said.

    The Assange issue has put Britain and Ecuador at odds, with London angered by the decision of Ecuador's socialist President Rafael Correa to grant him asylum and Quito unhappy at the British refusal to allow him safe passage.

    Asked about his health, Assange said anyone would be affected by spending two years in a building with no outside areas or direct sunlight, a complaint he has made several times before.

    Information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    August 18, 2014 2:57 PM
    The real risk here is what can be placed electronically in the public domain and how much new material is available for release, an immense concern to the security services, who cannot afford him fleeing to another Country, like Edward Snowden.

    by: Cj p from: California
    August 18, 2014 2:27 PM
    Why are there so many issues with transparency?

    by: Anonymous
    August 18, 2014 2:17 PM
    'Call of the Siege' lol

    by: ricov from: US/
    August 18, 2014 1:35 PM
    Enjoy your stay, crybaby -- people have paid for your fun.

    by: Gino Tortelli from: Phoenix, AZ
    August 18, 2014 12:39 PM
    When you poke a bear with a stick, you should be ready to live with the consequences. Governments hate to be exposed. He knew that and went ahead anyway. Now, he's complaining he gets no sunlight? If he gives himself up and get extradited, I'm sure that he will get some time in the exercise yard at the federal prison. Problem solved.

    by: Tony Williams from: USA
    August 18, 2014 12:37 PM
    Got a big kick out of the quote by the British Home Office spokeswoman claiming recent changes to British extradition law didn't apply to Mr. Assange because "There were changes made to the law but they are not retrospective.” Anybody in England know the difference between 'retrospective' and 'retroactive'?
    In Response

    by: djwixx from: USA
    August 18, 2014 2:17 PM
    "Anybody in England know the difference between 'retrospective' and 'retroactive'?"
    Yes - clearly you don't have access to a dictionary!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.