London: Seeking to resume talks with Ecuador, Britain today reassured WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and the Latin American country over the perceived risk to his human rights if he were to be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of sexual offences.
Foreign secretary William Hague said in a statement in parliament that the apprehension that 40-year-old Assange may be extradited again from Sweden to a third country were unfounded given Sweden`s commitments to human rights and the fact that UK`s consent would be needed if the onward extradition were to be sought.
Stating that Britain wanted to "continue our dialogue with the Government of Ecuador", Hague said that the Foreign Office had invited the Government of Ecuador to resume discussion, as early as possible, on this issue.
Since July 19, Assange has been holed up in the Ecuador embassy here.
The Latin American country granted Assange "diplomatic asylum" on August 16, a category of asylum Britain does not recognise.
Seeking to dispel apprehensions of risk to Assange`s human rights, Hague noted that Sweden was a signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights, and that the Scandinavian country "robustly" implements and adheres to the "highest standards" of human rights protection.
Noting that Britain`s consent would be required under law if Assange were to be extradited from Sweden to a third country, Hague said: "In practice, this means that the United Kingdom could only consent to Mr Assange`s onward extradition from Sweden to a third country if satisfied that extradition would be compatible with his human rights, and that there was no prospect of a death sentence being imposed or carried out".
"I have been consistently clear that we are not threatening the Embassy of Ecuador and that we are absolutely committed to the principles of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and always act in accordance with it," he added.
Assange had been fighting for a year and a half against being sent to Sweden for questioning about accusations of sexual abuse.
Two women accused him in August 2010 of sexually assaulting them during a visit to Sweden.
He fears that if he is extradited to Sweden, authorities there could hand him over to the United States, where he then could be prosecuted for his leaking thousands of classified diplomatic documents.