Hague stokes Assange row
William Hague has made it clear that Britain will not give Julian Assange safe passage to South America, locking the British Government in a heated diplomatic row with Ecuador .
The South American country has granted political asylum to Mr Assange - a decision the Wikileaks founder hailed as a "significant victory".
But the Foreign Secretary told a press conference this afternoon: "We will not allow Mr Assange safe passage out of the United Kingdom, nor is there any legal basis for us to do so. The United Kingdom does not recognise the principle of diplomatic asylum."
Mr Assange has been staying in the Ecuadorian embassy since June. He faces extradition to Sweden, where he is subject to sexual assault charges.
In a statement today, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino urged the UK to alter its stance, and said the concerns that Mr Assange could face extradition to the United States at a later stage were the reason behind the decision.
“We trust that the United Kingdom will offer, as soon as possible, the guarantee to the safe passage for the asylum of Mr Assange and they will respect those international agreements they have signed in the past.”
Ecuador's decision comes after it accused the UK of making an "explicit threat" to enter the country's London embassy in pursuit of Mr Assange.
The Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson QC said the Government was wrong to make such a threat.
He told the BBC: "The 1987 Act does not give them the right to go and barge into an inviolable mission.... What the British Government has done - and I think they should withdraw their interpretation and perhaps apologise for it - is to make an over-sensitive Latin American state, and indeed British diplomats around the world, terribly worried."
Outside the embassy today, the police arrested three people after scuffles between protesters and the police.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt tweeted this evening: "We have again informed the Ecuador Ambassador about the principles of our independent judicial system. And rejected unfounded allegations."