Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa says the United Kingdom is unwilling to talk with the Andean country about the release of Julian Assange, who has been living in Ecuador’s London embassy since 2012 after being granted political asylum.
Assange has been unable to leave the Ecuadorean embassy for almost six years due to an active arrest warrant in the U.K. If he leaves he will be arrested, and he fears extradited to the United States.
Espinosa says she tried to establish a mediation process on Jan. 9 with the U.K. to resolve the unsustainable situation Assange is in, but on Friday she announced her attempts were unsuccessful.
“On the issue of mediation, I have to say very honestly that it has not been successful because two parties are needed to mediate. Ecuador is willing, but not necessarily the other party,” the minister explained.
London has refused to give Assange diplomatic status after he was granted Ecuadorean citizenship. A spokesman from the U.K. Foreign Office stated: “Ecuador knows that the way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice.”
Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy to prevent extradition to Sweden, where he was accused of sexual aggression in August 2010. Fearing he would then be extradited to the U.S. to be tried for releasing U.S. diplomatic and military secrets on WikiLeaks, Ecuador decided to grant him political asylum.
The Swedish case against Assange was dropped last May, but a U.K. judge upheld his arrest warrant last week, arguing he violated the terms of his parole. In February 2016, the United Nations working group on arbitrary detentions said Assange had been arbitrarily detained by Sweden and the U.K./teleSUR