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UK rejects request to grant Assange safe passage

Britain has said it will arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange if he leaves his refuge in the Ecuadoran embassy in London. Their decision comes after requests that Assange be allowed to see a doctor.

Britain rejected on Thursday a request from the Ecuadoran embassy in London to allow Julian Assange safe passage to receive medical care.

Ecuadoran officials had appealed to the British government to allow Assange, who has been holed up in the embassy since 2012, to see a doctor for shoulder pains.

"We are asking for a special safe conduct pass that lasts a few hours only so he can take a magnetic resonance and return under our protection," said Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino.

But British authorities answered with a resounding "No."

"The reply we have had from Britain is that he can leave whenever he likes for any medical care he might need but the European arrest warrant for Assange is still valid. In other words, he can leave - and we will put him in jail," Patino added.

Assange sought refuge in the embassy in order to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where he is accused of rape. Assange has denied the claims, insisting the sex was consensual.

The Australian is also concerned about facing trial in the United States, where he's accused of leaking thousands of classified government documents to the public.

On Monday, Britain

announced

it was ending the 24-hour surveillance of Assange.

blc/cmk (AP, Reuters)

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