LONDON: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has requested political asylum at Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he remains “beyond the reach of the police”, the British Foreign Office said yesterday.
Assange, 40, faces extradition to Sweden on allegations of sexual offences after Britain’s Supreme Court rejected his final appeal on June 14. A 10-day period of extradition begins on June 28.
The Foreign Office said Assange was on “diplomatic territory” and that it would work with Ecuador to resolve the situation. Analysts said Assange could be arrested by police if he stepped outside the embassy.
Ecuador on Tuesday confirmed that Assange, an Australian, had sought refuge at its London embassy.
“The decision to consider Mr Assange’s application for protective asylum should in no way be interpreted as the government of Ecuador interfering in the judicial processes of either the United Kingdom or Sweden,” a statement by the Ecuadorian embassy said.
It added: “In order to reach a proper decision in line with international law on Mr Assange’s application, the Ecuadorian government will be seeking the views of the governments of the United Kingdom, Sweden and the United States of America.”
Assange is wanted for questioning by Swedish authorities over rape and sexual assault allegations made by two women, who said the attacks happened in 2010.
“I don’t want to comment on these events until I have more knowledge about what has happened,” said Thomas Olsson, a lawyer representing Assange in Sweden.
Acting Australian Prime Minister Wayne Swan said Assange’s asylum application was a personal matter. –