Ecuador will continue supporting Assange, says foreign minister
Iran Press TV
Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:19PM GMT
Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino says the country will continue supporting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
On Sunday, Patino met Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in central London, where he has been living for a year, the state-funded BBC reported.
'I was able to say face to face to him, for the first time, that the government of Ecuador remains firmly committed to protecting his human rights and that we continue to seek cast iron assurances to avoid any onward extradition to a third state,' the Ecuadorian foreign minister said.
Patino said Assange was 'in good spirits' despite the 'limitations of his accommodations."
Assange for his part said he was 'immensely grateful' for the support from the Ecuadorian president and nation.
On Monday, Patino is expected to meet with British Foreign Secretary William Hague to hold talks over Assange's situation.
The WikiLeaks founder was accused of committing rape and other sexual crimes in Sweden after the whistleblower made US "secret" and "top secret" documents publicly available on the website, despite intense efforts by US officials to stop him.
In an attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden, Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on June 19, 2012 and applied for political asylum.
Assange had embarked on a marathon round of court battles but finally exhausted all his options under British law in June 2012 when the Supreme Court rejected his appeal against extradition.
Assange has maintained that he is innocent and claims the allegations against him are politically motivated. He says that if he is extradited to Sweden, the authorities there could hand him over to the United States, where he could be prosecuted for his role in leaking classified documents.
Assange gained international prominence in 2010 when WikiLeaks began publishing thousands of confidential US diplomatic cables, which embarrassed the US government. The website has also published hundreds of thousands of classified US documents relating to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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