Monday, April 23, 2018

UK, Ecuador seek solution to deadlock over Assange

LONDON — Britain is seeking an amicable solution with Ecuador to their diplomatic standoff over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a U.K. official told the Associated Press on Saturday.

Assange, who took shelter in the Ecuadorean embassy on June 19 after he exhausted all routes of appeal in the U.K. to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning over sexual misconduct allegations, is scheduled to make a public statement today.

London diplomats have spoken with Ecuadorean Ambassador Ana Alban since the South American country granted Assange asylum on Thursday, a move which threatens to further complicate Sweden's two-year attempt to have the activist extradited from Britain.

British officials in Ecuador's capital, Quito, have also contacted the country's foreign ministry to discuss a resumption of talks over the case.

But there was little sign of a friendlier atmosphere Saturday from Quito, where Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said Ecuador "never wanted to impede the investigation of a supposed crime. What we wanted to impede is the extradition to a third country."

Correa complained again that Britain and Sweden had declined to give assurances against such an extradition.

Former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon, who is representing Assange, 41, said Ecuador may consider making an appeal to the International Court of Justice in The Hague in order to compel Britain to grant Assange safe passage out of the country.

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