May 23, 2013 | 06:26 AM (BD Time)
23 May, 2013 Thursday
UK won't allow Assange safe exit
. BBC Online
The UK and Sweden have criticised Ecuador for granting political asylum to Julian Assange as the diplomatic row over what to do with him intensifies.
The Wikileaks founder took refuge at Ecuador's London embassy in June as he faced extradition to Sweden over sexual assault claims, which he denies.
The UK has said it will not allow him safe passage out of the country.
Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said he hoped talks with the UK would "overcome this". He told BBC Mundo the UK should respect Ecuador's "sovereign decision" otherwise "we will use the alternatives under international law to demand the safe passage".
"We don't think it is reasonable that, after a sovereign government has made the decision of granting political asylum, a citizen is forced to live in an embassy for a long period," he added.
Patino also claimed "other elements" were motivating Sweden's wish to extradite Assange, and also tweeted his "sincere appreciation" to the national assembly in Ecuador which passed a resolution condemning the "threat" to Assange's political asylum.
However, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said his country would not be lectured by Ecuador.
Bildt said Sweden was entirely within its rights to question Assange about a serious alleged crime.
He denied that Assange would ultimately be extradited to the US to face death penalty.
Ecuador has said Assange's human rights might be violated if he were sent to Sweden to be questioned over allegations that he sexually assaulted two female ex-Wikileaks volunteers while he was in Stockholm to give a lecture in 2010.
The Wikileaks website has published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables that embarrassed several countries, particularly the US.
The 41-year-old Australian citizen, who claims the sexual contact was consensual, has said the allegations against him were politically motivated and he feared that, if extradited to Sweden, he would then be passed on to US authorities.
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