Assange expected to make first public statement since taking refuge in Ecuador embassy
Julian Assange is preparing to issue a public statement from the Ecuadorean embassy in London at 1pm GMT today. The WikiLeaks founder has been residing in the embassy since 19th June, and on 16th August was granted political asylum by the Ecuadorean government. Assange is seeking to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning regarding alleged sexual misconduct in 2010.
Assange will remain in the embassy after being denied safe passage by the United Kingdom government. Britain’s Foreign Office have warned they would take “appropriate action” if he were to leave the premises. Foreign secretary William Hague has expressed his determination to see Assange extradited to Sweden, while Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has said publicly: “Mr Assange can stay indefinitely in our embassy.” With a stalemate reached between the two nations, it is likely that Assange’s residence for the foreseeable future will be a small office in the ten room embassy.
This will be the first time since his arrival that Assange will have a chance to speak to his supporters, many of whom have gathered outside the embassy despite the recently increased police presence. Protestors have also expressed their support for Assange’s plight at UK embassies around the world.
Assange’s mother has spoken to the media in Australia prior to her son’s statement. She has described as “very realistic” the possibility of Assange moving to Ecuador to continue his work as an investigative journalist. “He has billions of people around the world supporting him, the US and their allies are almost alone on this one and the support grows day by day,” she said today, during an interview with the ABC.