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

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

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.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid