QUITO – Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange revealed that he will leave Ecuador’s embassy in London after two years of political asylum.
He denies planning to hand himself over to the British police, only saying that he will leave “soon”.
Assange denies reports in the media of having got a chronic lung disease and a heart problem during his time at the embassy, and only said that the embassy was a place that “an environment in which any healthy person would find themselves soon enough with certain difficulties that they would have to manage”.
During a press conference at the embassy he said that 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”.
Assange refused to elaborate, but Kristin Hrafnsson said that “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 that “his bag is packed”.
After the UK’s Supreme Court dismissed his efforts to block his extradition, the police have maintained a 24-hour guard outside the embassy at a cost of £6.4m.
Clive Coleman, the BBC’s legal correspondent, said that nothing had changed since 2012 and Mr Assange would be arrested and extradited if he left the embassy.
Assange, 43, faces questioning over a sexual abuse case in Sweden in 2010, which he has denied. Fearing extradition to the US and a potential 35 years in prison should he go to Sweden, he sought asylum in Ecuador’s embassy where he has stayed for two years.
Richard Patiño, the Ecuadorean Prime Minister, has been seeking to meet with Phillip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, in a bid to end the deadlock in Assange’s situation.
He said that “the situation must come to an end.”
Adding that “Two years is simply too long, it’s time to free Julian Assange. It’s time for human rights to be respected.”
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