Assange row continues
The UK and Swedish governments have criticised Ecuador over its decision to grant political asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, as the diplomatic dispute intensifies.
Mr Assange will give a statement on Sunday about the row, after he was was granted political asylum by the South American nation yesterday.
Despite Quito’s decision, William Hague yesterday insisted the UK was unwilling to allow Mr Assange safe passage out of the UK, and British police continue to surround the embassy.
The Wikileaks founder has been staying in the embassy since June after he was released on bail while facing extradition to Sweden, where he is subject to sexual assault charges.
The Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt told Radio 4’s World at One that his government became involved yesterday to respond to the “very serious” accusations lodged against their legal system by the Ecuadorian government.
He defended Claes Borgstrom, the Swedish lawyer representing the victims of alleged assault. He said: “[He] is a very prominent, very left wing lawyer in Sweden. So to see him as an agent of the CIA as I have seen in some of the rhetoric here is also somewhat bizarre, I have to say.”
Earlier today Mr Borgstrom said Mr Assange had been “very clever” to move the focus away from his alleged crimes onto the idea he could be extradited to the US.
He told the Today programme: “There is no demand from the United States that he should be extradited to the US. So I think what has happened is that Julian Assange himself is very clever to move focus from what he is actually suspected to have done, to something completely different which is very unfortunate for my clients.”
But Kristinn Hrafnsson, who is a spokesman for Wikileaks and is in regular contact with Mr Assange, suggested the US had already issued a “sealed indictment” against Mr Assange.
He also hit out at the UK’s “ridiculous” threat to revoke the Ecuadorean embassy’s diplomatic status and then arrest Mr Assange. He argued that in doing this, the Foreign Office had been “putting British diplomats in danger all over the world”.