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Julian Assange stands on a balcony at the Ecuadorian embassy in London
Image: picture-alliance/J.Wiseman

Ecuador looks to end Assange impasse

January 9, 2018

The Ecuadorian foreign minister has urged "international cooperation" to end a standoff in the case of Julian Assange. But the UK has warned it will arrest the WikiLeaks founder if he steps outside Ecuador's embassy.


Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said on Tuesday that her country is searching for a "third country or a personality" to mediate a solution to the case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

In June 2012, Assange fled to the Ecuadorian embassy to avoid an extradition warrant over allegations of sexual misconduct and has remained there ever since.

Read more: 'The blame is on Assange, not Sweden'

Although Swedish authorities have since dropped their extradition warrant, British officials have signaled their intent on arresting him if he leaves Ecuador's diplomatic compound in London.

'Not sustainable'

Assange has expressed fears that he could be extradited to the US on charges related to WikiLeaks' release of 500,000 secret military files and diplomatic cables.

"No solution will be achieved without international cooperation and the cooperation of the United Kingdom, which has also shown interest in seeking a way out," said Espinosa.

Read more: Opinion: Tolerating WikiLeaks

Assange's situation "is not sustainable. A person cannot live forever in these conditions, and we are searching in a very respectful way with the United Kingdom … for a solution."

WikiLeaks celebrates 10 years with new threats

'Without breathing the air'

In 2016, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention agreed that Assange's time at the Ecuadorian embassy amounted to arbitrary detention and should therefore be released and compensated.

However, British and Swedish authorities at the time refused to back down from their plans to arrest the WikiLeaks founder.

Read more: Julian Assange: Five years without sunlight

"How would you feel after spending five and a half years in a tiny office without feeling the sunlight and without breathing fresh air?" asked Ecuador's foreign minister on Tuesday.

"Even people kept in detention centers get to go out into a yard, do some sport. That's not the case for Julian Assange. His conditions of confinement are very complicated."

ls/rt (AFP, AP)

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