UK desperate to end Julian Assange embassy stand-off – Ecuadorian FM
The British government is trying to extricate itself from the Julian Assange embassy stand-off which has seen the WikiLeaks co-founder holed up in the Ecuadorian mission since 2012.
The five-year stalemate has seen millions of pounds poured into policing and surveillance efforts to keep the Australian from fleeing the country.
He had originally faced an international arrest warrant for allegations of sexual assault in Sweden.
Even though Swedish authorities withdrew the allegations in May this year, UK police said Assange would still be arrested if he left the embassy because he had broken bail and failed to surrender to authorities despite an arrest warrant being issued for him in June 2012.
However, behind the scenes, it appears the UK and Ecuador have been working on the issue.
“The United Kingdom wants a way out, but evidently that is in the hands of the UK justice system, they have their procedures, their ways,” Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa told journalists on Thursday.
“This opening has been there, and we are working on it,” she said.
Espinosa is quoted in the Ecuadorian media as saying “at the moment there are diplomatic contacts with the United Kingdom.”
“The idea is to reach a solution that benefits the rights of the insured person. There is the best predisposition.”
Assange has always maintained he is innocent of all sexual assault and rape allegations and insists he sought asylum in the embassy in order to avoid extradition first to Sweden and then to the US, where he could face espionage charges.
The police guard outside the embassy was maintained from 2012 to 2015 at a reported cost of more than £12 million (US$15.6 million