Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño, who is likely to meet Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague in New York next week at the UN General Assembly, said Ecuador was considering the transfer as an option to solve a diplomatic stalemate over Mr Assange, who is wanted in Sweden on allegations of rape and sexual assault.
The two foreign ministers will resume their discussions on Mr Assange’s case among other foreign policy issues. Britain has repeatedly said it will not grant him a safe passage to Ecuador.
Safe passage to Sweden would allow Mr Assange to “remain under our protection while also satisfying the demands of the Swedish justice system,” Mr Patiño said.
The British Foreign Office said on Saturday it had a binding obligation to extradite Mr Assange if he left the Ecuadorean embassy and that it fully intended to do so. “We want to reach a diplomatic solution but need to make sure our laws are respected and followed,” said an official.
The WikiLeaks founder fled bail three months ago when he lost his legal appeals against extradition to Sweden.
On Friday, Mr Patiño also hinted at fresh developments in the Swedish case against Mr Assange, saying that “several elements of proof have been dismissed.”
Mr Assange was granted political asylum by Ecuador in mid-August, having been holed up since June in its London embassy, where he enjoys diplomatic protection.
Mr Assange has said that once in Sweden he would be at risk of being extradited to the United States because of WikiLeaks’ whistleblowing activities and involvement in publishing of thousands of secret US diplomatic and military cables. Both Stockholm and Washington reject the claim.
“I think Ecuador is making a huge effort to resolve the diplomatic problem and protect Assange from the gorilla in the room: persecution by the US,” Michael Ratner, Mr Assange’s lawyer in New York, told the Financial Times. “Ecuador is suggesting many solutions. We hope the UK is likewise willing to come to a solution.”
Mr Assange is seeking asylum from a government that has a controversial attitude towards independent media. “If he sets foot in the US, it is very likely that he won’t see the light of day,” said Mr Ratner.
Seems reasonble? Sweden gets to question Assange in Sweden and he remains protected by the embassy.