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Thread: Frustrated Julian Assange marks third year in Ecuadoran embassy

  1. #1
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    Default Frustrated Julian Assange marks third year in Ecuadoran embassy

    Frustrated Assange marks third year in Ecuadoran embassy

    Frustrated Assange marks third year in Ecuadoran embassy

    17 hrs ago

    © John Stillwell/AP Image Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino, left, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speak during a news conference inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange Friday clocks up three years inside the Ecuadoran embassy in London, after claiming that Swedish prosecutors cancelled a landmark meeting in his case earlier this week.

    The Australian activist said a long-awaited interview with the prosecutors fell through in what he labelled a "public relations exercise", although the prosecutor's office declined to comment.

    Assange, 43, sought asylum in the embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces allegations by two women, one of rape and one of sexual assault, which he denies.

    The former computer hacker fears extradition to Sweden could lead to him being transferred to the United States to face trial over WikiLeaks' publication of classified US military and diplomatic documents.

    Prosecutors had long insisted that he travel to Sweden for questioning but in March they agreed to go to London instead.

    They said they changed their stance because some of the alleged offences will reach their statute of limitations in August.

    Assange condemned what he said was the last minute scrapping of Wednesday's planned interview with prosecutor Marianne Ny.

    "To behave in such a way seems reckless and it is hard to imagine that it was more than a public relations exercise," he said in a statement.

    According to an email seen by The Guardian newspaper, Ny said the meeting had to be cancelled because she had not received official permission from Quito to enter the embassy.

    Assange has compared living at the embassy -- which has no garden but is in the plush Knightsbridge district, near Harrods department store -- to life on a space station.

    His room is divided into an office and a living area. He has a treadmill, shower, microwave and sun lamp and spends most of his day at his computer.

    "He has not seen the sun in three years as the embassy has no outdoor area," WikiLeaks said. "His rights have been severely abused."

    Entering the embassy meant he jumped his English bail and police have been posted outside since he has been there at a cost of at least £10 million (14 million euros, $16 million).

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    Julian Assange denies seeking asylum in France

    Julian Assange denies seeking asylum in France

    Lloyd Jones 5 hrs ago AAP

    © John Stillwell/Pool Photo via AP The defence team for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has denied he sought asylum in France after the Elysee Palace said it had declined such a request.

    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has denied filing a request for asylum in France after revealing the existence of a child he hasn't seen for five years.

    His legal defence team took issue on Friday with a statement from the Elysee Palace that an asylum request from the Australian had been declined.

    Defence team director Baltasar Garzon said in a statement that an open letter written by Assange to French President Francois Hollande had only expressed his willingness "to be hosted in France if and only if an initiative was taken by the competent authorities".

    Earlier Hollande's office said in a statement it could not "act on the request", adding that Assange was not in immediate danger and there was a European arrest warrant out on him.

    The Australian, who turned 44 on Friday, has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces allegations by two women of rape, sexual molestation and illegal coercion.

    He says he fears if he goes to Sweden he'll be extradited to the US and charged over WikiLeaks' release of classified documents.

    In his open letter published in Le Monde newspaper on Friday, Assange described himself as a "journalist pursued and threatened with death by the United States' authorities as a result of my professional activities".

    He wrote that "only France now has the ability to offer me the necessary protection against, and exclusively against, the political persecution that I am currently the object of".

    Such an offer of protection would be a "humanitarian and symbolic gesture" and send a message of encouragement "to journalists and whistleblowers around the world".

    Assange said in his letter he had not seen his youngest child or the child's mother, who are both French, for five years.

    "I have had to keep their existence secret up to today in order to protect them," he wrote.

    In response to the open letter, Hollande's office said that "on account of the legal elements and material situation of Mr Assange, France cannot act on the request".

    But Garzon said that contrary to assertions from the Elysee Palace, the Australian's defence team "wishes to state very clearly that Julian Assange has filed no request for asylum in France".

    "No terminology in his letter to the President of the Republic can be interpreted in a different sense."

    Garzon said Assange's letter was in part a response to recent comments by French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira and he questioned how carefully Hollande's office had interpreted the letter before providing a response "in such a rush".

    In his letter, Assange raised the issue of US spying on French leaders after WikiLeaks last week released documents indicating Hollande and the two previous presidents had been wiretapped.

    The revelations caused widespread anger in France and prompted Taubira to say she would "not be shocked" if France decided to extend political asylum to Assange and fellow whistleblower Edward Snowden.

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