Britain won’t budge over ‘safe passage’ for Assange
The UK has insisted it will not grant Julian Assange “safe passage” to Ecuador as the row over his asylum continues.
Downing Street said the government was obliged to extradite Assange to Sweden where he faces questioning over sex assault claims, which he denies.
The Wikileaks founder has been staying at Ecuador’s London embassy since June.
South American nations have pledged support for Ecuador after the UK said it could legally enter the building.
The UK Supreme Court in May dismissed Assange’s bid to reopen his appeal against extradition and gave him a two-week grace period before extradition proceedings could start.
“We hope that we can reach a diplomatic solution and we are doing what we can to achieve that,” Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman said.
“Under our law, having exhausted all the options of appeal, we are obliged to extradite him to Sweden. It is our intention to carry out that obligation.”
Last week, Ecuador described as a “threat” a UK letter that drew attention to the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, which could allow it to potentially lift the embassy’s diplomatic status to allow police to arrest Assange for breaching his bail terms.
Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, has suggested Assange could co-operate with Sweden if assurances are given that there would be no extradition to a third country.
On Sunday, Assange, 41, used his first public statement since entering the embassy to claim asylum – delivered from a balcony – to call on the US to stop its “war on whistle-blowers”.
The US is carrying out an investigation into Wikileaks, which has published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables, embarrassing several governments and international businesses.
In 2010, the two female ex-Wikileaks volunteers accused Assange, an Australian citizen, of committing sexual offences against them in Stockholm. He denies the charges.
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