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Ecuador to push for WikiLeaks founder's safe passage


08:01, May 30, 2013

QUITO, May 29 (Xinhua) -- Ecuador will continue to push Britain to allow WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to leave the country so he can take political asylum in the South American country, media here reported Wednesday.

Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said Ecuador will submit a new legal document requesting Britain grant Assange safe passage to leave the Ecuadoran embassy in London, where he has been holed up for nearly a year, national daily El Universal and others reported.

Ecuador has been trying to secure his safe passage since Assange first took refuge at the embassy, but Patino said the new document builds a legal case based on international humanitarian law that reinforces Ecuador's argument in favor of letting Assange leave the country.

"The British government has all the powers (and) possibilities to grant the safe passage," Patino told the press, adding he might make a "very brief" trip to England to deliver the new document and visit Assange.

Patino said he was surprised by Britain's ongoing refusal to deny Assange the opportunity to take asylum in Ecuador.

"We are surprised that a year has gone by in a country that supposedly respects and upholds human rights, but has been insensitive to the humanitarian situation of a world citizen," he said.

By refusing to allow Assange to leave the country, Patino said, "the British government is violating (his) human rights."

The British government says it must extradite Assange to Sweden, where he is wanted for more questioning in relation to two sexual assault charges, both of which he denies. He has not been officially charged in either case.

Assange believes Sweden will hand him over to the United States, which could indict him for espionage or other crimes against the state after his whistle-blowing website angered Washington by releasing thousands of embarrassing confidential diplomatic cables and video footage of a deadly U.S. military strike against civilians and journalists in Iraq.

Last week, Patino said the country is organizing a number of activities to mark the first anniversary of June 19, 2012, the day Assange sought asylum at Ecuador's embassy.

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