Julian Assange: UK tells Ecuador that harbouring WikiLeaks founder is not acceptable

Diplomatic spat erupts as Sweden confirms they are dropping investigation

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The Independent Online

Britain’s ambassador to Ecuador will complain about Quito’s failure to let Swedish prosecutors interview the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over rape allegations. The Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire warned yesterday that Ecuador’s failure to permit Mr Assange to be interviewed was “a growing stain” on its reputation.

The diplomatic spat erupted as Swedish prosecutors confirmed they are dropping the investigation into allegations of sexual molestation and coercing a victim. A second molestation allegation is expected to be dropped next week. They insisted an investigation into rape allegations against him will continue. Mr Assange denies the allegations.

Legal limits on the allegations have expired because they had been unable to interview Mr Assange, who is inside Ecuador’s London embassy. He has been there for three years after Quito granted him political asylum. He sought asylum saying he feared extradition to the US where he faces prosecution on espionage charges.

“Ecuador must recognise its decision to harbour Mr Assange has prevented the proper course of justice. It is completely unacceptable the British taxpayer has had to foot the bill for this abuse of diplomatic relations,” Mr Swire said. In a statement Mr Assange said: “There was no need for any of this. I am an innocent man.”