UK urged to give Assange 'safe passage'

  • 15/10/2015
Julian Assange (Reuters)
Julian Assange (Reuters)

Britain should grant Julian Assange safe passage so the Wikileaks founder can leave the Ecuadorian embassy where he has been holed up since 2012, Ecuador says.

The British should make this gesture so Assange "can benefit from the right of asylum that we have granted him, as should be done in a respectful international relationship," Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino told state TV on Wednesday (local time).

He spoke two days after Britain said it would stop standing guard non-stop outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Swedish prosecutors want to question Assange about a rape claim, which carries a 10-year statute of limitations that expires in 2020.

Assange, who faces arrest if he tries to leave the embassy, denies the allegation and insists the sexual encounter was consensual.

The 44-year-old Australian also fears that if he leaves he could eventually face extradition to the United States and a trial over the leak of hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents in 2010.

Patino said Assange "has no reason to commit irregularities. And therefore, the British police have no reason to spend so much money to deploy so many police and vehicles outside the embassy."

He recalled that Sweden and Ecuador are negotiating what he called an international criminal assistance accord.

Sweden wants this accord finished by the end of the year so it can question Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Patino said no deadline for the agreement has been set.