Ecuador’s FM in UK to talk Assange fate
Patino met with Assange in the embassy in Kensington, west London, on Sunday evening and Monday the minister will hold talks with Foreign Secretary William Hague.
"I have just finished meeting with Julian Assange who is in good spirits despite the limitations of his accommodation," Mr Patino said. "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."
June 19 will mark exactly a year since Assange, a 41-year-old
whistleblower from Australia, walked into the Ecuadorian embassy
avoiding the extradition to Sweden where he is wanted for alleged
sex crimes against two women – claims that he denies.
The WikiLeaks founder has been granted political asylum in
Ecuador, but to travel there he would have to leave the embassy.
The UK has refused to grant Assange a safe passage to the South
American republic and he will be arrested the moment he walks out
of the building. British authorities have already spent about $US
4.7 million on police guarding the door of the embassy
Assange does not want to go to Sweden as he fears that he would
be extradited to the US for questioning and prosecution over the
publications by WikiLeaks of confidential data.
Patino said he hoped his visit to the UK would help to move the situation forward and Hague would show a degree of flexibility.
However, a breakthrough in the deadlock is unlikely with the
Foreign Office saying that it is “committed to seeking a
diplomatic solution to this situation and must also ensure that
our laws are followed.”
“The UK has a legal obligation to extradite Mr Assange to
Sweden to face questioning over allegations of sexual offences,
and the British police must fulfill this,” the body’s
For Assange these past 12 months have been like living on a space
station, and physical circumstances of his captivity “are
difficult,” he told AFP. The former Australian computer
hacker has used a treadmill to get some exercise and a sun lamp –
as a substitute for the lack of natural light. However, he is not
ready to just give up yet and empathized that despite all
difficulties, his mind “is not confined.”
The Wikileaks founder believes that London’s stance is getting
softer and Britain and Ecuador may come to an agreement that will
see him finally leave “within a year.”
“Of course, [the UK] will never publicly humiliate the United
States by offering me safe passage in a manner that doesn't seem
to be forced,” he noted. “But there's lots of ways of
saving the pride of Sweden, Australia, the UK and the United
States,” Assange added, without clarifying them.
Answering a question about where he will be this time next year,
Assange said “Hopefully Australia, Ecuador, traveling the
The founder of WikiLeaks - famous for publishing over 250,000 American diplomatic cables - is also running for a seat in the Australian senate later this year.