No safe passage for Assange, says Britain

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Julian-Assange
London, Aug 16: Britain said on Thursday that it would not provide safe passage to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange if he was granted asylum by Ecuador at whose embassy he is holed up since June. It is widely expected that Assange will be granted asylum, which will have new implications for his travel from the Ecuador embassy here to the country. He is likely to be arrested by the British police the moment he steps out of the embassy.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said, "It (the granting of asylum) does not change our position. Our legal position is not changing at all. Our position is that we have a duty to extradite him, even if he is granted political asylum". Three people were arrested on Thursday morning during a scuffle with the police outside the Ecuadorean embassy where Assange has taken refuge to avoid extradition to Sweden to face allegations of sexual offences.

The scuffle broke out as Britain and Ecuador were locked in a diplomatic impasse over Assange. Ecuador is due to announce its decision on Assange's application for asylum, but Britain said it would seek to extradite him even if he were granted asylum.

Given Ecuador's hardening of position after Britain delivered what Quito considered a "threat" to enter its embassy in London, it was widely expected that Assange’s asylum application would be successful, which would set in motion another chain of events related to his extradition.

Ecuador Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said on Wednesday: "We want to be very clear, we are not a British colony. The colonial times are over". Britain said it was under a legal obligation to extradite Assange to Sweden while Ecuador insisted that British authorities entering the embassy would violate the Vienna convention and would be considered a hostile act.

See: Assange granted asylum

PTI

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