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Britain Confirms Assange 'Beyond Reach' Of Police

June 20, 2012


The British Foreign Office has confirmed that Julian Assange is now "on diplomatic territory and beyond the reach of the police" following the WikiLeaks founder's move to seek political asylum at Ecuador's embassy in London.

On June 19, Assange fled to the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces sexual assault allegations.

Britain's Supreme Court rejected his final appeal of the case on June 14.

Assange, an Australian national, denies any wrongdoing.

Ecuador has said it is evaluating Assange's asylum request.

Assange became internationally prominent in 2010, after WikiLeaks released hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic and military documents.

Assange has he said he fears that if he is extradited to Sweden he may be sent to the United States to face criminal charges and a possible death penalty if convicted.

Bail Conditions Broken

Assange was arrested in Britain in December 2010 on a European warrant. He has been living under strict bail conditions at the home of a wealthy friend in England.

Police in London said on June 20 that Assange has broken the bail conditions and now faces arrest if he emerges from the Ecuadorian Embassy.

Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino pledged that Ecuador's government will make a decision on Assange's asylum request "with respect to the norms and principles of international law."

Patino added that "Ecuador's traditional policies are sensitive to human rights."

Swedish prosecutors have so far declined to comment on Assange's asylum request.

Wikileaks created a media firestorm in 2010 when it released confidential messages sent between U.S. officials about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and private analyses of the political situations in scores of countries.

U.S. officials have accused the organization of allegedly putting lives at risk by blowing the cover of sources who spoke to U.S. diplomats and intelligence agents in countries where it is dangerous to do so.

The suspected source of the biggest leaks -- on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- U.S. Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, is in U.S. custody.

Manning is facing 22 criminal charges and, if convicted, would be sentenced to life in prison.

With reporting by dpa and the BBC


Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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