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You're reading: WikiLeaks’ Assange says ready for life in Ecuador

CANBERRA - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said on June 22 that he was ready for a life in Ecuador and said the country had been "quite supportive" of his bid for asylum.

Assange is holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he
has sought asylum in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden where
he is wanted for questioning on sexual assault charges, and he
faces arrest by British police if he leaves the embassy.

In an telephone interview with Australian Broadcasting Corp.
radio from the embassy, Assange said he was concerned about
being sent to the United States to face possible charges related
to the WikiLeaks website, which published thousands of leaked
U.S. diplomatic cables in 2010.

“The Ecuadorean people have been quite supportive. I heard
(the) Ecuadorean Ambassador in Australia has been making
supportive comments. They are sympathetic over a long period of
time,” he said.

“We hope the asylum application will be viewed favourably.
Now it’s is a matter of gathering extensive evidence of what is
happening in the U.S. and submitting that with a formal
request.”

He said he had no indication of when Ecuador would decide on
his asylum claim, and said his move was aimed at raising
awareness of U.S. moves to prosecute him over the 2010 leaks.

Leftist Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa reiterated on
June 21 that his government plans to do a very thorough
analysis of Assange’s application before making a decision.

“We could not allow that a person who has asked for asylum
may have to face the death penalty, especially for political
crimes,” Correa told reporters.

“We could not accept that there may not have been due
process, we could not accept that there may be political
prosecution against the ideas expressed by Assange,” said
Correa, as he listed the reasons why Ecuador may decide to grant
asylum to Assange.

Assange fears that if sent to Sweden, he would then be
extradited to the United States where he believes he could face
criminal charges punishable by death.

He said he was not running away from questioning over sexual
assault allegations in Sweden, but said the Swedish prosecutors
had refused to visit him in Britain or contact him by phone.

“This issue is about a very serious matter in the United
States,” he said, adding Swedish authorities said he would be
detained on arrival in Sweden.

Assange said his case was currently before a U.S. grand
jury, which would decide whether charges could be laid. He said
U.S. authorities have been careful not to confirm or deny any
grand jury investigation.

“There are subpoenas everywhere. We have received subpoenas,
there are subpoenas in my name,” he said, adding people have
been detained at U.S airports and been questioned by the FBI and
asked to become informers.

Assange also hit out Australia for not taking stronger
action to protect him, saying he had no consular contacts since
December 2010 apart from telephone text messages.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said Assange has
received more consular support than anyone in a similar
position, while Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said Australia has
regularly made representations about Assange to authorities in
the U.S., Sweden and Britain.

“It is an effective declaration of abandonment,” Assange
said.

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