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Julian Assange 'to leave' Ecuador embassy

WikiLeaks founder says he will leave Ecuador's embassy in London "soon", but gives no further details.

Last updated: 18 Aug 2014 12:21
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Julian Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy for over two years [Reuters]

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said he plans to leave Ecuador's embassy in London "soon", having spent the last two years avoiding extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault.

Assange told reporters during a news conference on Monday that he would be "leaving the embassy soon" but not for reasons "reported by the Murdoch press", without elaborating further.

"I am leaving the embassy soon... but perhaps not for the reasons that Murdoch press and Sky news are saying at the moment," he said.

The situation must come to an end, two years is simply too long.

Ricardo Patino, Ecuadorian foreign minister

British media had reported at the weekend that he was suffering from the potentially life-threatening heart condition arrhythmia and had a chronic lung complaint as well as dangerously high blood pressure.

Asked about his health, Assange said anyone would be affected by spending two years in a building with no outside areas or direct sunlight, a complaint he has made several times before.

Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee, reporting from London, said the WikiLeaks founder may be under the allusion that he will be given some form of clemency from the UK if he is unwell.

Britain has refused to grant Assange safe passage out of the embassy so he can travel to Ecuador, despite Ecuador granting the Australian refugee status.

Ecuador's Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patino, accompanied Assange at the press conference and called for the governments involved in his case to take action.

"We continue to offer him our protection... we continue to be ready to talk with the British government and the Swedish government to find a solution to this serious breach of Julian Assange's human rights," Patino said.

"The situation must come to an end, two years is simply too long," he added.

Assange has been holed up in a small ground floor apartment at the embassy since 2012 to escape extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted.

He fears extradition to Sweden could be a pretext for him to be transferred to the United States to face trial over WikiLeaks' publication of classified US military and diplomatic documents.

Wikileaks leaked a vast trove of diplomatic cables and Iraq and Afghanistan war logs a few years ago.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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