Europe between past and future

Aug 19, 2014

Julian Assange has rebuffed reports that he is planning to leave the Ecuadorean embassy

Julian Assange has rebuffed reports that he is planning to leave the Ecuadorean embassy 

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Julian Assange has rebuffed reports that he is planning to leave the Ecuadorean embassy in order to hand himself in to police, saying only that he will leave “soon”.
Media reports had surfaced ahead of a press conference on Monday morning suggesting that the WikiLeaks founder intended imminently to give himself up to the British authorities. Assange has been confined to the embassy for more than two years after being granted political asylum.
But when questioned by reporters alongside Ecuador’s foreign minister Ricardo Patino, Assange said WikiLeaks’ spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson had “confirmed that I am leaving the embassy soon, but perhaps not for the reasons the Murdoch press and Sky news are saying at the moment”.
He refused to elaborate, but speaking later, Hrafnsonn said: “He is ready to leave at any moment as soon as the ridiculous siege outside will stop and he is offered safe passage.” He added “his bag is packed”. Asked explicitly were there plans for Assange to hand himself in to British police, who maintain a 24-hour guard outside the embassy, Hrafnsson said “no”.
Assange also declined to respond in detail to suggestions reported in an interview with him on Sunday that he was suffering from potentially life-threatening health problems, saying only that the embassy was “an environment in which any healthy person would find themselves soon enough with certain difficulties that they would have to manage.”
Patino repeated calls published in the Guardian today for Assange’s situation to be resolved, saying there had been “two lost years” since he entered the embassy. The Australian sought asylum in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden to face accusations of sexual assault from two women. He fears onward extradition to the US to face charges relating to WikiLeaks’ publishing activities.
“We once again call on the international community particularly on journalists to join a much needed international campaign to guarantee freedom and human rights for Assange,” said the foreign minister. “We uphold Julian Assange’s status as a political asylee. We continue to offer him our protection and we continue to be ready to talk to the British government and the Swedish government in order to try to find a solution to this serious breach of Julian Assange’s human rights.”
He said he hoped “over the coming weeks” to set up a meeting with the British foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, to discuss the case.

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