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Ecuador: Road Clear for Assange to Leave London Embassy


FILE - Protesters demand the government remove Julian Assange's Ecuadorian nationality, carrying a sign that reads in Spanish "Nationality is earned, not given away," outside the government palace in Quito, Ecuador, Oct. 31, 2018.

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno said "the road is clear" for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to leave Ecuador's London embassy, where he has lived for six years to avoid being arrested by British police and possibly extradited.

In a media interview, Moreno said he had received written assurances from Britain that Assange could leave the building safely. Moreno did not say whether Assange would be forced out.

Assange sought asylum at the embassy in 2012 while facing allegations of sex crimes in Sweden. Assange said he feared the charges might be used to extradite him to the United States, where he is accused of divulging sensitive U.S. intelligence through the WikiLeaks website. The investigation in Sweden was later dropped, and Ecuador said there were no pending extradition requests against Assange.

Moreno said Britain assured him that it would not extradite a person to a country where his life would be in danger.

Moreno, however, said Assange had to answer to Britain for violating asylum terms when the WikiLeaks founder asked for protection to avoid being sent to Sweden. Moreno also cut off Assange's access to the internet earlier this year.

Assange has maintained that Britain will hand him over to the U.S. Last month, a U.S. federal judge deferred action on deciding whether to reveal charges against Assange, the existence of which were accidentally made public in an unrelated case.

Assange founded WikiLeaks as a whistle-blower organization in Iceland in 2006. Through document dumps, the online tool has revealed damning information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. diplomatic communications and U.S. political candidates.