Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Ecuador minister visits Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appears with Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London (AP)

Ecuador's foreign minister has visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange inside the embassy where the Australian has been staying for the past year.

Ricardo Patino said Mr Assange was in "good spirits" despite the "limitations" of his accommodation inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Mr Patino will meet with Foreign Secretary William Hague on Monday to discuss the future of Mr Assange, who has been inside the embassy since June 19 last year.

The WikiLeaks founder is wanted for questioning in Sweden over sex allegations by two women - which he denies - but fears being extradited to the United States if he goes to Sweden.

Mr Patino said: "I have just finished meeting with Julian Assange who is in good spirits despite the limitations of his accommodation. I was able to say face to face to him, for the first time, that the government of Ecuador remains firmly committed to protecting his human rights and that we continue to seek cast iron assurances to avoid any onward extradition to a third state.

"During the meeting we were able to speak about the increasing threats against the freedom of people to communicate and to know the truth, threats which come from certain states that have put all of humanity under suspicion."

Mr Assange said: "Over the last hour I have had a very good meeting with Ricardo. The minister emphasised his government's continued commitment to support and protect me.

"He set out how he and the Ecuadorian government are actively seeking a solution to my present situation. I remain immensely grateful to the support Ricardo, President (Rafael) Correa and the people of Ecuador have shown me over the last year."

Mr Assange smiled as he shook hands with Mr Patino prior to their discussions. He expressed gratitude for the support offered by staff at the embassy before the pair retired for a private meeting.

He said: "My situation here has been physically difficult but the staff at the embassy have been really kind and supportive despite the occasional entertainment outside, whether they are people chanting or policeman coming down on ropes."

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk