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Wikileaks, Ecuador condemn 'UK threat to storm' embassy for Assange

The Wikileaks founder continues in his bid to avoid extradition to Sweden.

Police officers outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in central London last night.
Police officers outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in central London last night.
Image: Yui Mok/PA Wire/Press Association Images

AS ECUADOR DECIDES whether to grant political asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, the diplomatic fallout grows with the South American government accusing the UK of making ‘dangerous’ threats.

The British Government maintains it can enter the Ecuadorian embassy – where Assange sought refuge from extradition – and arrest the 41-year-old under the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act of 1987.

Even the mention of such a move has angered Wikileaks, which has also condemned the presence of police outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in Central London.

A statement issued overnight claimed that the UK is “willing to risk an international incident to arrest a man charged with no crime”.

Both Wikileaks and Ecuador have called on Britain to resolve the situation “according to peaceful norms of conduct”.

Wikileaks believes the perceived threat is “designed to preempt Ecuador’s imminent decision” on whether it will grant asylum to Assange. That decision is due to be revealed by the Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino and President Rafael Correa at noon today. “A threat of this nature is a hostile and extreme act, which is not proportionate to the circumstances, and an unprecedented assault on the rights of asylum seekers worldwide,” continued the statement.

Assange, an Australian national, has been staying in the embassy since June in an attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning over a number of alleged sex crimes.

He claims that his safety would be at risk as Sweden could turn him over to the US where he could face espionage and conspiracy charges. He angered Washington with his website after releasing a flood of classified information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Earlier today, his mother said that the United States was behind the British threat. “What the US wants, the US gets from its allies,” she said from Australia, “regardless of if it is legal or if it is ethical or in breach of human or legal rights.”

Although Ecuador has been angered by the steps already taken by the British government, a spokesperson for the Foreign Office said police were ready to arrest Assange for breaching terms of bail granted in 2010.

“The UK has a legal obligation to extradite Mr Assange to Sweden to face questioning over allegations of sexual offenses and we remain determined to fulfill this obligation,” the spokesman said in London.

Assange denies all allegations against him in Sweden. He exhausted all of his options in Britain after appearing in the Supreme Court in June and proceeded with his application to Quito.

-Additional reporting by AFP

Background: WikiLeaks founder Assange seeks Ecuador asylum>

More: The Ballad of Julian Assange’ among songs featuring on new Wikileaks CD>

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