An Ecuadorian presidential candidate has promised to ask Julian Assange to leave the country's London embassy if he is elected - with the first round of voting next week
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange could soon be forced to leave the sanctuary of London’s Ecuadorian embassy - depending on the outcome of the country’s presidential election.
In an interview with the Guardian, Ecuadorian presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso said Assange’s asylum is expensive and no longer justified.
Mr Lasso, a member of the rightwing Creo-Suma alliance is currently trailing seven points behind the ruling Country Alliance party candidate Lenín Moreno.
However, he has been gaining ground in recent weeks and he is regarded as being capable of forcing Moreno into a second round of voting next April.
“The Ecuadorian people have been paying a cost that we should not have to bear,” Mr Lasso told The Guardian. “We will cordially ask Señor Assange to leave within 30 days of assuming a mandate.”
Assange has been resident at the embassy in London’s Knightsbridge for more than four and a half years and the situation is reportedly causing consternation within the Ecuadorian administration.
The country’s foreign minister has called the situation “something out of a John le Carré novel” with British police and intelligence keeping the embassy under close surveillance.
Assange was given sanctuary in the embassy to prevent his extradition to Sweden where he faces a sexual assault charge.
He has refused to face the charge claiming that the Swedish extradition request was a ruse aimed at getting him transferred to the US - where he believes he will face charges of espionage and the possibility of heavy jail time for releasing troves of classified files to the public.