Julian Assange asylum plea rejected by France

WikiLeaks founder has spent three years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London

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The Independent Online

The French President has turned down a request for political asylum from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

The Australian, who has spent three years living inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, wrote to Francois Hollande.

The letter, published by French daily newspaper Le Monde, said: "Only France is in a position today to offer me the necessary protection against, and exclusively against, the political persecution of which I am currently a target."

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Met Police guard the Ecuadorian embassy in London (Getty)

France studied the request and decided it couldn't be granted given the legal ramifications, President Hollande's office said in a statement, adding that Mr Assange was not in any "immediate danger".

It added that Mr Assange is the subject of a European arrest warrant.

French justice minister Christine Taubira suggested in a televised interview last week that she would be open to the idea, but Mr Hollande's statement made it clear that will not happen.

"A deep examination found that given the judicial elements and the material situation of Mr Assange, France cannot follow through on his request," the president said.

The WikiLeaks founder has been granted political asylum by the Ecuador Government following his sudden arrival at the embassy in 2012.

Mr Assange and his group angered the US government by publishing hundreds of thousands of secret military and diplomatic documents.

In his letter to Mr Hollande, he said the mother of his youngest child is French. He also said he is restricted to a space of 5.5 square metres, lacking access to "fresh air, sun ... as well as any possibility to go to a hospital", and noted that police say round-the-clock surveillance of him has cost £11.1 million.

He is seeking to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces sex allegations by two women - claims he denies.

 

He fears that if he goes to Sweden he will be taken to the United States for questioning about the whistleblowing website.

The Metropolitan Police have mounted a round-the-clock guard on the embassy since Mr Assange sought refuge inside the building.

Press Association

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