QUITO: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would end his five-year stay in Ecuador’s London embassy and hand himself over to British authorities if given assurances he would not face extradition to the United States, his lawyer said Friday.
Assange has been holed up at the embassy since 2012, concerned that a British arrest warrant would result in his extradition to the United States, where he could be tried for revealing state secrets.
Assange would “face up” to surrendering to British authorities who want to arrest him for breaching bail conditions, said his lawyer Carlos Poveda.
“In British justice, he could even be sentenced to three to six months’ imprisonment,” Poveda said.
“But what is being requested from the legal team is that there is a necessary assurance that after that sentence he will not be extradited to the United States.”
This would be “an extremely important condition” for the 47-year-old Australian, the lawyer said.
Ecuador gave Assange diplomatic protection in 2012 after a British judge ruled he should be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault there.
Sweden dropped its investigation last year, but British authorities say they still want to arrest him for breaching his bail conditions.
Assange claims the accusations were politically motivated and could lead to him being extradited to the United States to face imprisonment over the release by WikiLeaks of secret US military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010.
The Australian’s relationship with his Ecuadoran hosts has steadily turned sour. Last week, he announced he was suing the Quito government, saying new rules imposed on his stay violated his rights to unfettered communications with the outside world.
On Thursday, Eduador’s attorney general Inigo Salvador told reporters that Quito has proposed that either Assange turn himself in to British justice, or continue to live in the embassy under strict rules.