Britain threatens to storm Ecuadorian embassy to arrest Assange

LONDON. August 16. KAZINFORM British Foreign Office said on Thursday the country will try to fulfill its "obligation" to extradite Julian Assange, in response to a protest made by the Ecuadorian foreign minister against Britain's "threat" to storm its embassy in London.

The Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino held a news conference in Quito on Wednesday, after receiving a letter from the British government.

"Today we received from the United Kingdom the express threat, in writing, that they could assault our embassy in London if Ecuador didn't hand over Julian Assange. We want to make this absolutely clear. We are not a colony of Britain," he said.

The British Foreign Office, for its part, posted a short statement through its social networking account on Thursday morning, without denying the "threat."

"We have consistently made our position clear in our discussions with the government of Ecuador. UK has a legal obligation to extradite Mr Assange to Sweden to face questioning over allegations of sexual offences," The Foreign Office said.

"Throughout this process we have drawn the Ecuadorians' attention to relevant provisions of our law. For example, extensive human rights safeguards in our extradition procedures, or to legal status of diplomatic premises in the UK," it said, adding "We are still committed to reaching a mutually acceptable solution."

The Ecuadorian government will announce its decision about Assange's asylum request later Thursday, Xinhua reports.

Britain's Supreme Court dismissed Assange's appeal in May, paving the way for his extradition to Sweden over alleged sex crimes. Assange took refuge at the embassy in June to avoid extradition.

The 41-year-old Australian who founded the Wikileaks website has embarrassed several governments, including the United States authorities, by publishing millions of secret diplomatic cables on the Internet.

Since his arrest in Britain in December 2010, Assange fought a lengthy legal battle against extradition, fearing that his return to Sweden would lead eventually to his extradition to the United States to face the anger of the authorities over his publishing of the diplomatic cables.


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