HAVANA TIMES — Wikileaks founder Julian Assange announced Wednesday that he will remain in the Ecuadorian embassy in London even if the sexual offense charges that were brought against him in Sweden are dropped, as the United States has already prepared an extradition request, reported DPA news.
Exactly one year since taking refuge in the embassy’s premises, the Australian-born whistleblower declared that the United States is taking steps to request his extradition from the United Kingdom. Assange sought asylum in the embassy claiming he was sure to be extradited to the United States from Sweden, for revealing diplomatic and intelligence reports to the public through the site WikiLeaks.
Assange insists the criminal charges brought against him in Sweden are false and politically-motivated.
“The strong view of my US lawyer is that there is already a sealed indictment, which means I would be arrested, unless the British government provides guarantees that would grant me safe passage” to Ecuador, he stated.
“We know there is an ongoing investigation in the US and we know I am a target of the federal grand jury. There is a 99.97 percent chance that I will be indicted.”
“So if the Swedish government drops their request [for extradition to Sweden] tomorrow, I still cannot leave the embassy,” he added.
In the meantime, Assange addressed President Barack Obama to insist he put an end to investigations into WikiLeaks. “President Obama should do the right thing,” he said, warning of the danger that this incident could become a precedent that could spell the end of investigative journalism in the United States.
Assange believes that, with the accusations presented against soldier Bradley Manning, who provided WikiLeaks with confidential US Secret Service intelligence, the US government seeks to “criminalize” the sharing of information with journalists.
In addition, Assange declared that WikiLeaks took part in the efforts to aid former agent Edward Snowden, who revealed the existence of a secret US phone and Internet monitoring program, in securing political asylum for him in Island.
Ecuador granted Assange political asylum in August, but the United Kingdom has stated the Australian will be arrested if he leaves the embassy’s premises. This week, a new attempt to resolve the situation amicably through a meeting between Ecuadorian Foreign Affairs Minister Ricardo Patiño and his British counterpart, William Hague, met with failure. The officials agreed to set up a workgroup to find a solution to the problem.
Assange declared he works 17 hours a day and denied reports of health issues in recent months. Though getting no sunlight is unhealthy, he is taking care of himself and exercising regularly, he stated.
In addition, he has put himself forward as a candidate in Australia’s September elections, seeking a seat in Parliament.
Little is known of Assange’s private life in the Ecuadorian embassy, located in London’s high-class neighborhood of Knightsbridge near the exclusive Harrods marketplace. The Ecuadorian diplomatic core turned one of the embassy’s offices into a bedroom, furnishing it with a shower, a sun lamp and a treadmill.