Ecuador firm on Assange asylum


Wikileaks founder Julian Assange addresses members of the media and supporters from the window of the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge, west London on Dec. 20, 2012.


Leon Neal

Ecuador on Monday defended its protection of Julian Assange after holding fruitless talks with Britain, resulting in no change to the fugitive's asylum status, reported BBC News

Assange, who founded the pro-transparency group Wikileaks, has been in hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the past year.

If he leaves, he risks being extradited to Sweden and maybe even sent to the United States, where he could face the death penalty.

Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino discussed Assange with British Foreign Minister William Hague — the UK also wants Assange in court — but their discussions were unproductive. 

The British foreign office reported "no substantive progress" in the talks, according to Al Jazeera.

As for the Ecuadorian side, Patino said the "government will continue to ensure that [Assange] continues with the protection we have given him under asylum in our country, protecting his life, his personal integrity, and particularly his freedom of expression," reported BBC.

"The Ecuadorian government maintains that the reasons for which Ecuador granted asylum are still relevant, and therefore there is going to be no change in his circumstances," Patino added, saying it's likely Assange will stay in the embassy for five years. 

That will cost a pretty penny, according to BBC, estimating that the government has already spent over three million pounds on 24-hour security for the building.