`Prisoner of process` Julian Assange to leave Ecuador embassy `soon`

By Supriya Jha | Last Updated: Monday, August 18, 2014 - 17:34

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

London: After reports emerged that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has developed a life-threatening heart problem, the whistleblower announced on Monday that he will be leaving the Ecuadorian embassy in London soon.

Speaking in a press conference on Monday, Assange did mention that his health had suffered during two years of refuge at the Ecaudore embassy in London, as anyone would suffer after spending two years in a building with no outside access or direct sunlight.

However he rejected the British newspaper reports saying the reasons for his leaving the embassy were not what was being "reported by the Murdoch press".

"I am leaving the embassy soon ... but perhaps not for the reasons that Murdoch press and Sky news are saying at the moment," he told reporters at the embassy in central London.

However, the spokesperson of Assange later made it clear that the Australian had no intention to hand himself over to the police waiting outside, Reuters reported.

The spokesperson said that Assange could leave the building only if the British government "calls off the siege outside".

The whistle-blowing organisation Wikileaks in a tweet quoted Ecuador`s foreign minister Ricardo Patino as saying that it was high-time to free Assange after two years of confinement.

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy since June 2012, after the Latin American nation had granted him the diplomatic asylum.

Meanwhile, Ecuador said it was obligated to protect Assange in its enbassy in London.

Writing in the Guardian, Ecuador`s foreign minister Ricardo Patino said, "It’s an injustice that an asylum seeker must remain prisoner of a stalled judicial process. Ecuador is obligated to protect Assange in our embassy until he can fully enjoy his right to asylum."

According to earlier UK media reports, Assange was said to have developed "the potentially life-threatening heart condition arrhythmia and has a chronic lung complaint and dangerously high blood pressure.”

The reports said that confined within the embassy compound for two years, Assange remained devoid of sunlight, and a deficiency of Vitamin D “was impacting on his general health – in the long term, it can trigger asthma and diabetes, weaken bones and increase the risk of dementia".

The 42-year-old is wanted in Sweden for allegedly sexually assaulting two women in Stockholm in 2010.

If arrested, Britain would extradite him to Sweden for questioning in connection with the sexual assault, under a European Arrest Warrant.

Also, if extradited to the US from Sweden, Assange risks 35 years in prison there, for having made public a trove of classified US documents related to the Pentagon`s activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.



First Published: Monday, August 18, 2014 - 14:30

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