UK issues a 'threat' to storm Ecuador embassy if Assange is not handed over


London police wait outside the main door of the Ecuadorean embassy, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is holed up.


Will Oliver

Britain has threatened to storm Ecuador's embassy in London if WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is holed up inside, is not handed over to police, Ecuador's foreign minister said during a press conference.

According to Reuters, Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said: "Today we've received a threat by the United Kingdom, a clear and written threat that they could storm our embassy in London if Ecuador refuses to hand in Julian Assange."

Patino then declared pointedly: "We are not a British colony," according to NPR, adding that "such a threat is improper of a democratic and civilized country."

More from GlobalPost: Assange granted asylum in Ecuador: Guardian report

On Tuesday, Patino denied a report by the Guardian that his country's government has made a decision whether to offer asylum to Assange. The former computer hacker took refuge at Ecuador's London embassy in June — violating his bail terms in Britain — in order to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning over alleged sexual offenses. He is now subject to arrest by police if he sets foot on British soil, Reuters reported.

A spokesman for the UK's Foreign Office said that Britain is "determined" to extradite Assange, according to the BBC:

"Throughout this process we have drawn the Ecuadoreans' attention to relevant provisions of our law, whether, for example, the extensive human rights safeguards in our extradition procedures, or to the legal status of diplomatic premises in the UK," the spokesman said.

The spokesman added that the UK is "still committed to reaching a mutually acceptable solution."

But Patino responded feistily, saying Ecuador would take action to prevent what he called a violation of international law, reports Spanish news wire EFE. The BBC reports that the UK is planning to invoke the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act of 1987 to justify taking action against Assange within embassy grounds.

Ecuador will announce its decision on Assange's asylum request on Thursday morning, according to reports of Patino's remarks.