Ecuador’s top diplomat to visit WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said he would travel to London to meet with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, living at Ecuador’s embassy for nearly a year to avoid extradition.
Patino told the ECTV public television channel Wednesday that he would deliver asylum documents to Assange during the visit, his first with the anti-secrecy activist.
“We want to be cautious, but it’s time to visit him and tell him that he will continue to have our protection and support,” Patino added.
Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden, but has been holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London since June 2012 after he was granted asylum but denied free passage by British authorities out of the country.
Two women accuse the Australian activist of rape and sexual assault in 2010, when he was in Stockholm on WikiLeaks business.
Assange has denied the accusations, arguing they are part of a smear campaign to discredit his whistleblowing website.
The activist fears that if he is handed over to Sweden, he will be passed onto the United States for his controversial diplomatic memo leaks and could face the death penalty there.
Patino said that Quito has prepared a new document for London to grant Assange free passage that lists “not only the basics of why we have granted him asylum, but why Britain has all the powers under international law” to allow him to leave the country freely.
Britain has a “moral obligation” to allow Assange to leave, Patino added, accusing London of “seriously violating” his human rights.