Wikileaks founder Julian Assange 'will not leave Ecuadorean Embassy' due to fear of arrest

Wednesday 19 June 2013 14.04
Julian Assange has not left the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for the past 12 months
Julian Assange has not left the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for the past 12 months

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said he will not leave the sanctuary of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London even if Sweden stops pursuing sexual assault claims against him because he fears arrest on the order of the US.

Mr Assange said he remained hopeful he might be able to leave, but offered little evidence to suggest he would be finding new living quarters any time soon.

"I wouldn't say I wouldn't leave," he said. "[But] my lawyers have advised me I shouldn't leave the embassy because of the risk of arrest in relation to the risk of arrest and extradition to the US."

When asked whether he would remain inside even if Sweden dropped the investigation against him, Mr Assange said: "That's correct."

Mr Assange hailed Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the US National Security Agency who made revelations about US surveillance programmes, as a hero.

He also railed against the US, Britain and his native Australia and talked about his case.

Mr Assange, 41, fled to the Ecuadorean Embassy last June to avoid extradition to Sweden, which wants to question him about allegations of sexual assault and rape, which he denies.

He said he does not want to answer the allegations in person because he believes Sweden would hand him over to the US authorities, who would try him for helping facilitate one of the largest information leaks in US history.

WikiLeaks began releasing thousands of confidential US documents on the internet in 2010, embarrassing the US and, according to some critics, putting its national security and people's lives at risk.

Ecuador has granted Mr Assange political asylum, but Britain has made it clear he will be arrested if he tries to leave the building, which is heavily guarded by police.

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