Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 April 2014

Third night at embassy for Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seeking political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is little closer to discovering whether his request for political asylum in Ecuador will be accepted after he spent a third night at the country's embassy in London.

In a telephone interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) from inside the embassy on Thursday, Mr Assange said he did not know when the decision would be made.

The 40-year-old Australian said there was no guarantee his request would be accepted.

Mr Assange went to the embassy in Knightsbridge on Tuesday to seek diplomatic asylum to prevent him from being extradited to Sweden to face allegations of sex crimes, which he denies.

He told ABC's Radio National programme he was not prepared to go to Sweden because of the conditions in which he believes he would be held there.

He said: "The Swedes announced publicly, that they would detain me, in prison, without charge while they continued their so-called investigation. We had heard that the Ecuadorians were sympathetic in relation to my struggles and the struggles of the organisation with the United States, and the ability to exercise that option was at an effective end."

Mr Assange accused Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the US ambassador to Australia of "slimy rhetoric", and said he had received little consular assistance from his home country.

He told ABC that he had chosen against going to the Australian embassy after Australian Attorney-General Nicola Roxon refused "reasonable requests" by his lawyer to be involved or intervene in his planned extradition to Sweden.

Calling it an "effective declaration of abandonment", Mr Assange said: "There is not a single matter of concern under which the Australian government, as represented by the Attorney-General, would ask other governments to be reasonable or just in this case. There are serious issues here, and they are being hidden by the slimy rhetoric coming out of the US ambassador to Australia, via Gillard and by the foreign minister - and that needs to stop."

Ecuador's diplomats are still considering Mr Assange's request for asylum. Speaking to the BBC, Ecuador's president Rafael Correra said his country defended the right to live, and that authorities were analysing whether Mr Assange faced a danger to his life if he were to be extradited before they made a decision on his asylum.

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