Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Assange expects to stay in embassy

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for a year

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will not leave the Ecuadorian Embassy in London even if sex charges against him are dropped, because he fears moves are already under way to extradite him to the United States, he has revealed.

The disclosure was made on the first anniversary of his arrival at the embassy in a bid to avoid being sent to the US to be quizzed about the leaking of sensitive information to his whistle-blowing website.

He claimed there was a sealed indictment already lodged at a grand jury in the US which would lead to him being taken from Britain if he ever steps outside the embassy.

The Australian suddenly arrived at the elegant building, in London's exclusive Knightsbridge area, on June 19 a year ago, following attempts to extradite him to Sweden, where he faces allegations of sexual assault against two women - charges he has always denied.

Speaking for more than an hour to a small group of news agencies, including the Press Association, Mr Assange disclosed for the first time that even if the sex allegations were cleared up without him having to travel to Sweden, he fears being arrested.

"The strong view of my US lawyer is that there is already a sealed indictment which means I would be arrested, unless the British Government gave information or guarantees that would grant me safe passage.

"We know there is an ongoing investigation in the US and we know I am a target of the Federal grand jury. There is a 99.97% chance that I will be indicted.

"So if the Swedish Government drops their request (to go to Sweden) tomorrow, I still cannot leave the embassy.

"My lawyers have advised me I should not leave the Embassy because of the risk of arrest and extradition to the US."

Mr Assange, who was granted political asylum last year by the Ecuadorian Government, has kept up a strict work regime inside the embassy, and recently announced plans to stand in the Australian elections in September as a WikiLeaks candidate.

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