Julian Assange 'leaving embassy soon' as Ecuador seeks Foreign Secretary's assurance of safe passage
WikiLeaks founder gave no indication when exactly he will leave the embassy or under what circumstances
Julian Assange has confirmed he will be “leaving the [Ecuadorian] embassy soon”, as he made a desperate plea for an end to the stalemate currently gripping the WikiLeaks founder.
Assange was speaking at a press conference at the embassy this morning, addressing the “human rights breaches” that he says have led to his self-imposed house arrest for two years.
He said that he would not be leaving for the reasons that the "Rupert Murdoch press" have stated and also rejected claims that the accusations he is wanted on relate to rape allegations.
It had been reported earlier that he is suffering from arrhythmia (abnormal heart beats), high blood pressure and other health problems associated with a lack of Vitamin D, after his not being exposed to sunlight for that length of time, and that he would need to leave the embassy to go to hospital.
It had also been reported that he would leave to "give himself up" to police.
He is ready to leave, his spokesman Kristin Hrafnsson said after the briefing, so long as he is granted safe passage.
Assange, 43, added that it had been four years since he was first detained and that being confined for the last two has had great impact on his health.
Video: Assange will leave embassy soon
Ecuador has granted Assange refugee status but said that its efforts to create a solution to the “impasse” have as yet been unsuccessful.
He is currently wanted for questioning in Sweden over sex crime allegations involving two women, which he vehemently denies.
Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino sat next to Assange in the sombre and somewhat unrevealing press conference, and complained of the “two lost years” spent while no progress had been made on either Assange’s case or that of the Swedish women’s.
“There has not been justice for anyone. The situation must come to an end,” Patino said.
The Ambassador added that he will be in contact with Britain's Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, in the coming weeks to discuss the issue.
Ricardo Patino leaves the embassy after the press conference "We believe that the recent [legal] reforms create a better climate for us to try to reach an agreement.
"It is time to free Julian Assange; it is time for his human rights to be finally respected," he said.
Assange queried how a person can be held in Europe, away from their families and with their "freedom of movement restricted", while "a foreign government, the US" builds a case against them.
Patino added that requests for video conferencing with the Swedish authorities or for their actual presence at the embassy has been repeatedly denied.
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"Two years is simply too long," Patino said.
Last month, a Swedish court upheld the 2010 detention order on Assange after his lawyers tried to argue that the allegations were unfounded and that a European arrest warrant was disproportionate.
Assange says that the allegations are a smear campaign, fearing that Sweden will extradite him to the US to face charges relating to the leaking of top secret Washington documents as part of his work under WikiLeaks.
An appeal to the decision will be lodged soon, it is understood.
After the press conference, which was also attended by journalist John Pilger, WikiLeaks spokesman Mr Hrafnsson added: “The world is not coming to an end.”
“The plan, as always, is to leave as soon as the UK government decides to honour its obligations in relation to international agreements.”
The round-the-clock police presence at the Ecuadorian embassy has so far cost the UK £7million.
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