Ecuador Looks to Solve Standoff Over WikiLeaks Leader Assange
(Bloomberg) -- After more than five years holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London, Wikileaks leader Julian Assange may be wearing out his welcome.
Ecuador is exploring options to resolve his status and is very much interested in mediation by a third party, Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa told reporters Tuesday in Quito.
“We have an enormous interest in finding a definitive solution to the Assange case and for that to happen, we’re in a permanent dialogue with the government of the United Kingdom,” Espinosa said.
Assange was awarded diplomatic asylum in mid-2012 by President Rafael Correa on the grounds that the Wikileaks leader’s life was in danger should he be extradited to the U.S. to face charges of leaking classified information. But in the past year, his relations with his hosts have soured as he’s clashed with current President Lenin Moreno over social media while his continued political activism creates diplomatic headaches for Ecuador.
Weeks before the U.S. 2016 presidential election, embassy officials cut his internet access over his involvement in leaking documents damaging to U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton while more recently his support for Catalonia’s secession has provoked Spain’s ire.
Moreno has warned Assange that he must respect asylum conditions and not to get involved in the affairs of other countries.
Ecuador will continue to protect Assange, but that he can’t stay at the embassy indefinitely, Espinosa said. He has limited space in the embassy and faces arrest were he to leave the small apartment in London’s Knightsbridge neighborhood. A solution could come via mediation from a third country or an individual. She didn’t say who this might be or offer a timeline however.
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