Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno on Thursday said that conditions have been met for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to leave the South American country’s London embassy, where he has lived for six years under asylum, if he so chooses.
This would end his six-year standoff with British authorities. Julian Assange has repeatedly expressed fear that Britain would extradite him to US to face charges there.
“The way has been cleared for Mr Assange to take the decision to leave in near-liberty,” President Lenin Moreno told reporters, explaining that he still had to answer in Britain for violating the terms of his bail.
Moreno, however, said Britain had guaranteed that the 47-year-old Australian would not be extradited to any country where his life would be in danger.
Assange has claimed that Ecuador is seeking to end his asylum and hand him over to the United States, where prosecutors are preparing to pursue a criminal case against him. Wikileaks has released thousands of classified US military documents, among other disclosures.
US prosecutors last month inadvertently revealed the existence of a sealed indictment against Assange, according to WikiLeaks, but it was not known what the actual charges were.
Assange took refuge in the Ecuadoran embassy in London in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questioning in two alleged cases of sexual assault.
Sweden has since dropped that case, and Ecuador says there are no pending extradition requests against the WikiLeaks founder.
“The British government sent us an official communication indicating that the constitution of Great Britain bars extradition of a person to a place where his life would be in danger,” Moreno said.