Ecuador yesterday said it has received no extradition request for Julian Assange, which his lawyers have long cited as the reason the WikiLeaks founder has refused to leave its London embassy.
“We have told Assange: ‘Up to now, as far as we know, there is no extradition request from any country,’” Foreign Minister Jose Valencia told state-owned Radio Public.
The 47-year-old Australian has been holed up at Ecuador’s embassy since 2012, but Ecuador has shown increasing signs in recent months that it is preparing to terminate his six-year stay.
Valencia said the cost of hosting Assange so far had come to around $6mn.
Assange fears being extradited to the US to face charges over the WikiLeaks website’s release of troves of sensitive US government files.
He found refuge in the embassy in London after a British judge ruled he should be extradited to face allegations of sexual assault in Sweden.
That case has since been dropped, but Britain still wants him to face justice over breaching his bail conditions following his arrest on the sexual assault allegations.
His lawyer Carlos Poveda said last month Assange was prepared to surrender to British police if he receives assurances he will not be extradited.
“What England asks of him is to appear before the British courts to answer for having broken the conditions of his provisional release,” the foreign minister said.
“We do not see the British changing their point of view, they continue to insist that he appear before the courts and that they will not give him safe passage to another country,” said Valencia.
Ecuador said it had been informed by Britain that the penalty for violating parole conditions would not be more than six months.
Assange is currently suing Ecuador on grounds that his rights were violated by its decision to restrict his internet access.
An Ecuadoran court threw out the lawsuit last week, but Assange is appealing.
Quito confirmed blocking Assange’s internet and mobile phone access in March after accusing him of breaking “a written commitment” not to interfere in Ecuador’s foreign policies.
A protocol governing Assange’s stay at the embassy — revealed by Ecuadoran internet site Codigo Vidrio and never denied by Quito — warns that further breaches will lead to “termination of asylum.”
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