Assange will be removed from London embassy 'eventually', Ecuador says

President says nobody should remain under asylum 'for too long' as he reveals discussions with Britain

Tom Barnes
Friday 27 July 2018 19:05 BST
Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy - a timeline

The president of Ecuador says Julian Assange must leave his country’s London embassy “eventually”, revealing discussions are underway with British authorities to end his asylum.

Lenin Moreno cast doubts over how much longer the WikiLeaks founder’s six-year stay at the embassy could last after he announced talks had resumed to facilitate his exit.

Ecuador granted Mr Assange asylum in 2012 in order to avoid his extradition to Sweden to face questioning over sex assault allegations, which he has always denied.

The case has since been dropped, although the Australian-born programmer would still be arrested by British police for breaching bail conditions.

He also fears extradition to the United States, where he could be tried for the leaking of classified US state department documents.

Mr Moreno said nobody should remain under asylum “for too long” and Mr Assange would “eventually need to leave” the embassy.

He added any eviction would come as the result of negotiations involving all sides and hinge on whether Mr Assange’s life could be guaranteed.

The president also insisted he had no sympathy for Mr Assange’s political agenda as a leaker of confidential documents.

“I have never been in favour of Mr Assange's activity,” he said, speaking at an event in Madrid where he met with King Felipe and prime minister Pedro Sanchez, following a three-day trip to London.

When asked if he had spoken to British authorities about Mr Assange’s situation during his stay, he said the countries remained in constant contact over the matter.

“The only person I have never spoken to is Mr Assange,” he added.

A government spokesman said on Friday talks over Mr Assange’s future between the UK and Ecuador remained ongoing, but had not been brought up during the president’s visit.

Ecuador appears to be growing tired of the Assange situation and Mr Moreno earlier this year described the activist as an “inherited problem” and “more than a nuisance”.

His relationship with the Ecuadorean government is thought to have been strained further by his tweets in support of Catalan independence, which Quito believes is damaging ties with Madrid.

In March, Ecuador announced it had cut Mr Assange’s internet access, claiming his recent behaviour on social media was risking its “good relations” with the UK and the European Union.

Additional reporting by agencies

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