WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says he will leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been in a fugitive from the British and Swedish legal systems for more than two years, “soon”, but gave no specific timeline at a media conference in London this evening (Australian time).
Following a long, slow address by the Australian, who sought political asylum in the embassy in June 2012, as part of a four-and-a-half year legal battle to extradite him to Sweden to answer sexual assault charges, he answered a question from a reporter saying “I can confirm I will leave the embassy soon”.
Last week marked two years since Ecuador granted Assange political asylum over concerns that he would be sent to the United States from Sweden due to his WikiLeaks activities, which have embarrassed the US government several times.
Assange claimed that the FBI was paying bribes to informers in Europe in a bid to gather evidence against him and said he had filed a criminal complaint against the FBI for its activities.
Assange claimed that a change in Britain’s view was making it more favourable for him to leave the embassy, but said reports in the “the Murdoch papers” were wrong.
“An understanding has developed in the United Kingdom that the position taken by Ecuador is the correct one,” he said.
Addressing the media in Spanish, before Assange, Ecuadorian foreign minister Ricardo Patino said “The situation must come to an end. Two years is too long. It is time to free Assange. It is time for his human rights to be respected.”
The ambassador said he would be seeking a meeting with the British foreign minister in the coming weeks in a bid to bring about a resolution to the long-running dispute.
Patino pressed the case that Swedish prosecutors could travel to the UK to interview Assange, rather than insisting he return to Sweden.
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