Guatemala City (AFP) – Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said Tuesday that Britain had the power to resolve the Julian Assange standoff “tomorrow,” after the WikiLeaks founder voiced hope he would soon leave Ecuador’s embassy in London.
“This could be resolved tomorrow if the United Kingdom gave him the safe-conduct,” said Correa, referring to the pass Assange would need to leave the embassy without being arrested to face extradition.
Assange sought asylum at the embassy in June 2012 to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where he faces allegations of rape and sexual molestation which he strongly denies.
Correa said Sweden could also help resolve Assange’s fate by agreeing to take his testimony at the embassy or by videoconference.
“His statement can be taken under Swedish law, by Swedish prosecutors, in the Ecuadorian embassy, including by video. If they do that, this is cleared up tomorrow,” the leftist president told journalists in Guatemala City, where he is on a two-day visit.
“Mr Assange was granted asylum because there was no guarantee of due process, and because certain sectors in the United States were even calling for the death penalty,” Correa said.
Assange told a press conference Monday that he would leave the Ecuadorian embassy “soon,” after British media reported he was suffering from a potentially life-threatening heart condition, a chronic lung problem and high blood pressure.
But his lawyer later said Assange would not leave until there were guarantees in place that he would not be extradited to the United States.
Assange, 43, says going to Sweden to face the charges against him would put him at risk of being transferred to the United States to face trial for his anti-secrecy website’s publication of classified U.S. military and diplomatic documents.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]