Foreign Minister William Hague sought on Thursday to allay his
Ecuadorean counterpart's concerns about the fate of WikiLeaks founder
Julian Assange, saying Britain's extradition law has "extensive human
Assange has been holed up in
the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since June to avoid extradition to
Sweden to face rape and اللهم اهدنيual assault allegations.
lawyers and Ecuador's government fear that could lead to extradition to
the United States, where he could face charges stemming from WikiLeaks'
publication of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables that laid bare
Washington's powerbroker manoeuvres across the globe.
Hague met with Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly to discuss the case.
Ministers agreed that they were committed to the search for a
diplomatic solution to Mr Assange's case. They were willing to meet
again at this level in due course to continue these exchanges," Hague's
spokesman said in a statement.
says it is legally obliged to extradite Assange to Sweden, and that it
will not allow the 41-year-old Australian to leave the embassy and
travel to the South American country.
attended an event in New York on Wednesday at which Assange spoke via
video link from London. Assange lashed out at U.S. President Barack
Obama for supporting freedom of speech in the Middle East while
"persecuting" his organization for leaking diplomatic cables in 2010.
wants Britain to give Assange written guarantees that he would not be
extradited from Sweden to any third country. Ecuador and Assange's
lawyers say that if he was extradited to the United States from Sweden
he would face "inhumane" prison conditions and even the death penalty.
Foreign Secretary described the extensive human rights safeguards in UK
extradition law. He requested the Government of Ecuador to study these
provisions closely in considering the way ahead," Hague's spokesman
"The Foreign Secretary told
Minister Patino that the UK was under an obligation to extradite Mr
Assange to Sweden. The concept of 'diplomatic asylum,' while
well-established in Latin America, did not feature in UK law," he said.
an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, Patino made clear that Ecuador
is not willing to cede much ground. "The ball's in their court right
now," Patino said.
Patino held in
his hands a mimeographed copy of an 1880 agreement signed between
Britain and Ecuador, which he said prohibits extradition in cases likes
that of Assange. He said he planned to show the document to Hague.