Britain is 'softening' to my plight, claims Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on anniversary of Ecuador embassy stay

After a year in Ecuador’s embassy, WikiLeaks founder hoping for deal on extradition to Sweden

Julian Assange, the Australian-born founder of WikiLeaks who faces extradition to Sweden over alleged sex crimes, said on Sunday he believed the UK’s position on his plight is “softening”.

Mr Assange has been living under the protection of the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the past year, and has been granted political asylum by the country – a move that has sparked a diplomatic spat between London and Quito, as Britain has refused to grant him safe passage to the South American country.

As he prepares to mark the first anniversary of his arrival at the embassy, since when he has not set foot outside, he claimed a deal could still be reached between Ecuador and the UK “within a year” that would see him leave. 

“I think the position in the UK is softening,” he told the AFP news agency. “Of course, it will never publicly humiliate the United States by offering me safe passage in a manner that doesn’t seem to be forced.”

Mr Assange was visited in the embassy yesterday by Ecuador’s Foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, who will today hold talks with the British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

A spokesman for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office said: “We remain committed to seeking a diplomatic solution to this situation and must also ensure that our laws are followed. The UK has a legal obligation to extradite Mr Assange to Sweden to face questioning over allegations of sexual offences, and the British police must fulfil this.”

Mr Assange’s WikiLeaks website was responsible for the biggest leak in US history after it published secret files of America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a huge cache of diplomatic cables.

He is worried that authorities in Sweden – who want to question him over sexual allegations by two women, which he denies – will extradite him to the US where he could face questioning over the publication of classified documents.

In the interview, he described Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee responsible for leaking details of the US’s massive internet surveillance programme, as a “hero”.  Mr Assange said: “The British Government should be offering Mr Snowden asylum, not excluding him from their borders. Edward Snowden is a hero – his revelations disclose something that is important to almost everyone in the world.

“I am sure if you asked the people of the UK what they wanted, they would be in favour of protecting Mr Snowden. The UK doesn’t want to say no to the US under any circumstances – not in my case, and not in the case of Mr Snowden.”

Police maintain a 24-hour guard over the embassy building in Knightsbridge in case Mr Assange leaves – an operation which has so far cost the British taxpayer £3m.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge face-off in the final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture