Ecuador moots Assange Sweden transfer

Ecuador moots Assange Sweden transfer
Photo: AP; Scanpix
Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino proposed Friday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange be transferred from London to Sweden, where he would remain under Quito's protection.

Patino told journalists Ecuador was weighing such a transfer as a possible

alternative for Assange to “remain under our protection while also satisfying

the demands of the Swedish justice system.”

Britain’s foreign office was tightlipped on Saturday over the proposal.

“We’ve made our position very clear on Mr Assange, mainly that he has exhausted the option of appeal and we are under a binding obligation to extradite him to Sweden and we have to carry out this obligation and we fully intend to do so,” a spokesperson said.

Sweden’s foreign ministry for its part said Stockholm had not received any

approach from Quito and would not speculate on the proposal.

“We cannot speculate on what such a solution might be like. We have received no request,” Swedish foreign ministry spokeswoman Linn Duvhammar told AFP.

The lawyer for Assange’s alleged victims, Claes Borgström, dismissed the idea as “asbsurd.”

“There is no reason to treat Assange differently from other people in this situation,” he told the TT news agency. “There must be equality before the law.”

Patino hinted to “new” developments in the Swedish case, saying “several elements of proof have been dismissed,” though he declined to provide further details.

In a sign that diplomatic moves are afoot in the Assange case, Patino said he planned to discuss the issue with his British counterpart William Hague on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday.

He stressed that the best option, in Ecuador’s view, would be for Britain to grant Assange safe passage.

Julian Assange took shelter in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in June after exhausting all appeals against extradition from Britain to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over sexual assault allegations.

Ecuador has granted him diplomatic asylum.

The 41-year-old Australian fears Sweden will hand him over to the United States, where he could face prosecution over the release of a vast cache of leaked Iraq and Afghanistan war reports and diplomatic cables.

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