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Assange to exit Ecuadorian embassy 'soon' after two years

By Tom Harper

Julian Assange, the founder of the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, has claimed that he will leave the Ecuadorian embassy "soon" after spending more than two years inside the building to avoid being arrested.

The Australian-born technology expert, who claimed political asylum inside the London embassy to avoid prosecution for alleged sex crimes, addressed speculation that he was about to hand himself in to police.

Questioned by reporters yesterday, he said: "I am leaving the embassy soon, but perhaps not for the reasons the Murdoch Press and Sky News are saying at the moment".

He was referring to reports that he has suffered from problems with his heart and lungs. However, although he did not respond to questions about his health, Mr Assange admitted: "Being detained for four years in various ways, and in this embassy for two years, with no sunlight, it is reasonable for any healthy person to find themselves with certain difficulties."

Mr Assange claimed political asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden to face allegations of sexual offences made by two women. The anti-privacy campaigner, who denies the accusations, fears that if he travels to Sweden he will eventually be extradited to the US to face charges over WikiLeaks' mass disclosure of US Government secrets.

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