Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Ecuadorian minister makes UK visit

Julian Assange has been at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June 19 last year

A senior Ecuadorian minister is making a brief visit to the UK ahead of talks over the future of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Ricardo Patino, Ecuador's foreign minister, will travel to the UK on the eve of the first anniversary of Mr Assange's dramatic arrival at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

He will meet Mr Assange at the embassy later on Sunday and hold talks with Foreign Secretary William Hague on Monday.

The Australian has been inside the embassy since June 19 last year and has since been granted political asylum. He is wanted for questioning in Sweden over sexual allegations by two women - which he denies.

Mr Assange fears he will be extradited to the United States for questioning over the publication by WikiLeaks of confidential information if he travels to Sweden.

He has described the ex-CIA employee who leaked secret US surveillance details as a "hero" and said the UK Government should be offering him asylum in this country.

Mr Assange spoke out after reports that the UK Government has warned airlines not to allow Edward Snowden to fly to Britain.

The Associated Press news agency reported seeing a document at a Thai airport telling carriers to stop Edward Snowden, 29, boarding any flights.

Mr Assange said: "The British Government should be offering Mr Snowden asylum, not excluding him from their borders. Edward Snowden is a hero - his revelations disclose something that is important to almost everyone in the world.

"I am sure if you asked the people of the UK what they wanted, they would be in favour of protecting Mr Snowden. The UK doesn't want to say no to the US under any circumstances - not in my case, and not in the case of Mr Snowden."

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