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WikiLeaks' Julian Assange to leave embassy 'soon'

India TV News Desk 18 Aug 2014, 17:53:50 PM IST
India TV News Desk
New Delhi: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced Monday that after spending two years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London he will "soon" leave the diplomatic safe harbor.

He made the comments during a joint press conference with Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino. Assange did not elaborate on the timing.

The 43-year-old faces questioning by prosecutors in Stockholm over claims made by two women in 2010.

He denies the allegations and sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in June 2012 shortly after a court ordered his extradition.

Police have maintained a round-the-clock presence outside the building in Knightsbridge.

Speaking at the news conference, Assange said: "I understand that Kristinn Hrafnsson has said that he can confirm I am leaving the embassy soon".

But he added it was not for the reasons reported in the UK press that he required medical treatment.

Clarifying Assange's comments, Hrafnsson said: "The plan is for him to leave as soon as the UK government decides to honour its obligations in relation to international agreements and calls off the siege outside - it's as simple as that."

It has been suggested that Assange may need hospital treatment and that any move could be to address suspected health problems, although he refused to be drawn on that specific point, saying only that when he does leave it will "probably not" be for the reasons reported on.

He said that his health has suffered as a result of his confinement. "It's an environment in which any healthy person would find themselves soon enough with certain difficulties they would have to manage," Assange said. He said the embassy "has no outside areas, no sunlight."

Assange fled to the embassy in 2012 fearing extradition to the U.S. via Sweden, where authorities want to question him over allegations related to sexual assault.

Ecuador has granted him refugee status and says it remains committed to his protection, but British police have so far refused to let him leave the embassy and it is thought that he would be arrested if he tried to do so.

In 2010, WikiLeaks published a tranche of leaked military and diplomatic cables and Assange has been the subject of an investigation by U.S. authorities.