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Assange will be refused safe passage even if Ecuador grants asylum - Foreign Office

Published time: August 16, 2012 09:53
Edited time: August 16, 2012 22:48

The Metropolitan Police arrest a supporter of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on August 16, 2012 (AFP Photo/Will Oliver)

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The UK will do everything in its power to block Assange’s passage to Ecuador despite being granted asylum by the nation’s government, officials said, claiming a legal obligation to extradite the WikiLeaks founder to Sweden.

UK authorities sparked a scandal when they announced they were prepared to raid the Ecuadorian embassy in London in order to apprehend Assange, effectively revoking the embassy’s diplomatic immunity.

In response, the Ecuadorian National Assembly President Fernando Cordero called an emergency meeting to assess "unusual and arrogant threat to pave our embassy in London."

The UK Foreign Office (FCO) said Ecuador granting asylum to Assange did not fundamentally change anything.

"We remain committed to a negotiated solution that allows us to carry out our obligations under the Extradition Act," the FCO stated via Twitter following Ecuador's statement. "We shall carry out that obligation. Under our law, with Mr Assange having exhausted all options of appeal UK authorities are under binding obligation to extradite him to Sweden."

Earlier, the FCO spokesman pointed out that even if Julian Assange wins the asylum bid, a request for safe passage will have to be filed to transport him to the airport.

"This would be refused," said the official. 

The Ecuadorian foreign minister said that such Britain's stance could be interpreted as “hostile and intolerable,” and an attack on Ecuador’s sovereignty that would provoke a dramatic diplomatic response.

"We want to be very clear, we're not a British colony. The colonial times are over," Ecuadorian minister Ricardo Patino said following a meeting with President Rafael Correa.

Police arrest Assange sympathizers

Police cordoned off the area around the Ecuadorian embassy in London in an attempt to disperse the gathered crowd of protesters. A brawl broke out between police and protesters, resulting in at least three arrests, RT’s London correspondent reported. A heavy police presence was witnessed in front of the embassy.

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Crowds outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on August 16, 2012 as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange awaits the decision of the Ecuadorian Government on granting his asylum request. (AFP Photo/Will Oliver)
Crowds outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on August 16, 2012 as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange awaits the decision of the Ecuadorian Government on granting his asylum request. (AFP Photo/Will Oliver)
Image from Twitter/@RTLondonBureau
Image from Twitter/@RTLondonBureau
Image from Twitter/@RTLondonBureau
Image from Twitter/@RTLondonBureau
Image from Twitter/@RTLondonBureau
Image from Twitter/@RTLondonBureau
Police and media gather outside the Ecuador embassy in west London August 16, 2012 (Reuters / Olivia Harris)
Police and media gather outside the Ecuador embassy in west London August 16, 2012 (Reuters / Olivia Harris)
A supporter of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is arrested outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on August 16, 2012 (AFP Photo / Will Oliver)
A supporter of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is arrested outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on August 16, 2012 (AFP Photo / Will Oliver)

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