London: Ecuador's President Rafael Correa has said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is welcome to stay indefinitely at its embassy in London, as he continues to fight against his extradition to Sweden.
“Since Assange has received asylum from the Ecuadorian state, he can stay in the embassy indefinitely,” Correa said.
“Ecuador was ready to negotiate if Britain withdraws its ‘threat’ against his country’s London outpost,” he added.
According to the Daily Mail, Correa’s comments leave British taxpayers facing an open-ended bill for policing the embassy.
Assange's self-imposed exile in the Ecuadorian embassy in London is costing the British taxpayer up to GBP 50,000 a day in policing costs, as scores of officers continue to lay siege to the building.
Assange has been holed up in the embassy in London's Knightsbridge area since June 19, in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations of sexual assault.
The founder of the whistle-blowing website denies the sex accusations, and fears he will be extradited from Scandinavia to the United States over WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of secret diplomatic cables in 2010.
According to the report, Correa said Ecuador never intended to stop Assange from facing justice in Sweden.
“What we've asked for is guarantees that he won't be extradited to a third country,” he added.
Correa also said his nation had to improvise to provide Assange with as many home comforts as possible at the diplomatic mission in London's affluent Knightsbridge area, including a bed, microwave, shower and treadmill for jogging.
First Published: Thursday, August 23, 2012, 13:03