Date
18 October 2017
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up in Ecuador's London embassy since June 2012. Photo: AFP
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up in Ecuador's London embassy since June 2012. Photo: AFP

Britain to protest to Ecuador over Assange asylum

Britain will make a formal protest to Ecuador over its decision to provide asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in its London embassy and so prevent his extradition to Sweden over alleged sex crimes, Reuters reported.

“Ecuador must recognize that its decision to harbor Mr. Assange more than three years ago has prevented the proper course of justice,” British Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire said in a statement.

The comments came after Swedish prosecutors dropped inquiries into three allegations of sexual molestation and unlawful coercion against the 44-year-old Australian as they had run out of time to bring charges.

However, they said they would push on with an investigation into an allegation of rape made in 2010 against him.

Assange, who denies any wrongdoing, has been holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy since June 2012 to avoid being extradited to Sweden.

He fears he would then be extradited to the United States where he could be tried for one of the largest information leaks in US history after publishing thousands of secret US diplomatic cables five years ago which infuriated Washington.

Assange breached his bail conditions to go to the embassy and British police have guarded the building in the upmarket central London neighborhood of Knightsbridge day and night ever since, at an estimated cost of more than 10 million pounds (US$15.6 million).

“It is completely unacceptable that the British taxpayer has had to foot the bill for this abuse of diplomatic relations,” Swire said, adding Britain still had a legal obligation to extradite Assange while the rape allegation remained outstanding.

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RA/CG

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