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Monday, June 17, 2013

Ecuadorean minister arrives in UK to discuss future of Julian Assange

William Hague 

to meet Ricardo 

Patino over 

WikiLeaks 

founder confined 

to embassy in 

London since 

August last year 
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, left, and Ecuador's foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, at the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

Haroon Siddique
The Guardian

Ecuador's foreign minister has arrived in Britain for talks with William Hague over the future of the WikiLeaksfounder, Julian Assange, who has been confined to the Ecuadorean embassy in London for almost a year. 

Ricardo Patino met Assange on Sunday and will meet Hague on Monday. On Wednesday it will be one year since the WikiLeaks founder walked into the embassy in Knightsbridge in an attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sex assault and rape accusations, which he denies. 

In August last year, Ecuador granted him political asylum but the British authorities have made clear that he will be arrested if he leaves the building. 

Patino said Assange was in "good spirits" despite the "limitations of his accommodation". 

He added: "I was able to say face to face to him, for the first time, that the government of Ecuador remains firmly committed to protecting his human rights and that we continue to seek cast-iron assurances to avoid any onward extradition to a third state. 

"During the meeting we were able to speak about the increasing threats against the freedom of people to communicate and to know the truth, threats which come from certain states that have put all of humanity under suspicion." 

Since Assange entered the embassy, the Metropolitan police have maintained a round-the-clock guard, which cost £3.3m up to March. 

Patino has previously accused the British government of trampling on the human rights of the Australian national by refusing to allow him to travel to Ecuador. Assange said last year he expected to wait six months to a year for a deal that would allow him to leave the embassy. On Sunday he said: "I remain immensely grateful to the support Ricardo, President [Rafael] Correa and the people of Ecuador have shown me over the last year." 

He fears answering the allegations in Sweden would make him vulnerable to onward extradition to the US to face potential charges relating to the WikiLeaks releases, fears dismissed by Swedish prosecutors. 
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