Julian Assange: After two years inside, he says he will leave embassy

The Australian, who claimed political asylum inside the London embassy to avoid prosecution for sex crimes, addressed speculation

The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has claimed he will leave the Ecuadorean embassy “soon” after spending more than two years inside the building to avoid being arrested.

The Australian-born technology expert, who claimed political asylum inside the London embassy to avoid prosecution for sex crimes, addressed speculation he was about to hand himself in to police.

Questioned by reporters at a press conference yesterday, Mr Assange said: “I am leaving the embassy soon, but perhaps not for the reasons the Murdoch press and Sky News are saying at the moment”.

He was referring to reports that he has suffered from problems with his heart and his lungs. However, although he did not respond to specific questions about his health, Mr Assange admitted: “Being detained for four years in various ways, and in this embassy for two years, with no sunlight, it is reasonable for any healthy person to find themselves with certain difficulties.”

Read more: Julian Assange might have been made ill after two years in the Ecuadorian embassy
America might be waging a war on whistleblowers, but Julian Assange is still a prisoner of his own ego  

His spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson later confirmed: “He is ready to leave at any moment as soon as the ridiculous siege outside will stop and he is offered safe passage.”

Mr Assange claimed political asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden to face allegations of sexual offences made by two women. More than £7m of public money has been spent guarding the embassy since he fled there in 2012. The anti-privacy campaigner, who denies the accusations, fears if he travelled to Sweden he will eventually be extradited to the United States to face charges over WikiLeaks’ mass disclosure of US government secrets.

Ecuador granted Mr Assange political asylum but the WikiLeaks founder has been unable to leave its London embassy and travel to the south American country for fear he would be intercepted by the Metropolitan Police, who are obliged to enforce a European arrest warrant obtained by Swedish police.

Appearing alongside Mr Assange at the press conference, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said: “We call on the international community to join a much-needed international campaign to guarantee freedom and human rights for Assange. We uphold Julian Assange’s status as a political asylee.

Members of the media outside the Ecuadorean embassy in London on Tuesday, where Julian Assange gave a press conference Members of the media outside the Ecuadorean embassy in London on Tuesday, where Julian Assange gave a press conference (Getty)

“We continue to offer him our protection and we continue to be ready to talk to the British and Swedish government to try to find a solution to this serious breach of Julian Assange’s human rights.”

Mr Patino said he was hoping to set up a meeting and discuss the case with the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond “over the coming weeks”.He also indicated that Britain rejected a request from Ecuador to allow Mr Assange to be taken to hospital in a diplomatic car without risk of arrest.

Reports over the weekend sourced to “WikiLeaks insiders” suggested Mr Assange is suffering from a potentially life-threatening heart condition, a chronic lung condition and dangerously high blood pressure. The anonymous comments appeared in a Mail on Sunday interview with Mr Assange in which he made no mention of his health.

In Sweden, lawyers for Mr Assange recently failed to overturn the arrest warrant on human rights grounds. Judge Lena Egelin said: “The court believes there is probable cause for the crimes of which he is accused. He has chosen himself to go into the embassy and … the court does not believe that the deprivation of his liberty is such as to be disproportionate” to the allegations that he faces.

Video: London Live discuss Assange's potential trial

Mr Assange argues that if he returns to Sweden to face the allegations of sexual offences involving two women in 2010, he will eventually be extradited to the US where he could face 35 years in prison for publishing classified documents related to the Pentagon’s activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Mr Assange, 43, said “the world is going crazy”. “Maybe it’s time to think that WikiLeaks is not the main problem for the West, maybe me and my publishing house are a lesser threat than say [Isis] in Iraq or, closer to home, paedophiles in Westminster,” he said.

“Why are they burning £240,000 a month on me which could be better spent on hospital beds, meals for the needy or teachers’ salaries?”

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
people
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher (One day per week)

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Maths Teacher (one day per week) Gr...

EBD Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Science Teacher Greater Manchester

Humanities Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Humanities teacher required for ...

English Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: ENGLISH TEACHER REQUIRED - Humbe...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits