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In the Media

article imageNo breakthrough on Assange in meeting between Patiño and Hague

article:352613:12::0
By Anne Sewell
Jun 18, 2013 in World
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London - The meeting between Ecuador's Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patiño and his UK counterpart, William Hague offered no "breakthrough". Julian Assange is now prepared for a half-decade stint in the Ecuadorian Embassy.
Digital Journal reported that Foreign Minister Patiño and Foreign Secretary William Hague had agreed to meet on June 17. The meeting happened on Monday, after which Patiño announced that there was no "breakthrough" as a result and that the impasse continues.
According to Patiño, after already having spent almost a year holed up in a small basement room at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, is ready to spend another five years on the premises.
Assange was granted political asylum by Ecuador last August, and Patiño traveled to the UK to meet with Hague on Monday, in a hope of finding a resolution to the standoff over Assange.
While both sides agreed to keep channels of communication open, there was "no breakthrough" made during the 45 minute bilateral meeting between Patiño and Hague according to a statement by the UK Foreign Office.
The two ministers have agreed to establish a working group to find a diplomatic solution to the Assange problem, but the foreign office did reiterate that any resolution would have to “be within the laws of the United Kingdom.”
Patiño also had a meeting with Assange on Monday at the embassy, and said that the WikiLeaks founder remains in good spirits, despite the limitations of his current living conditions.
"I was able to say face-to-face to him, for the first time, that the government of Ecuador remains firmly committed to protecting his human rights and that we continue to seek cast iron assurances to avoid any onward extradition to a third state." Patiño said.
"I remain immensely grateful to the support Ricardo, President Correa and the people of Ecuador have shown me over the last year," Assange said in return.
The BBC quotes Patiño as saying, "The Ecuadorean government will continue to ensure that he continues with the protection we have given him under asylum in our country, protecting his life, his personal integrity and particularly his freedom of expression.”
"The Ecuadorean government maintains that the reasons for which Ecuador granted asylum are still relevant, and therefore there is going to be no change in his circumstances," he added.
In the meantime, Assange remains in holed up the embassy, as the British courts ordered that he be extradited to Sweden for questioning on sex-related allegations, which he denies.
The concern is that should he travel to Sweden, he will then be sent on to the US to face espionage charges for confidential data released by WikiLeaks that has angered and embarrassed the US government. Assange refused to go unless Sweden can guarantee that it won’t extradite him to the US, but no such guarantee has been forthcoming.
Ecuador's deputy foreign minister Macro Albuja, speaking from Quito, told the media that the stand-off had tested ties between the two countries.
"[They] really reached a critical point [last August] when there was an inappropriate threat to invade Ecuadoran territory, violating the diplomatic legation, seeking Mr Assange's capture," Albuja told AFP.
"At no time has Ecuador sought to defy the English or Swedish justice system."
"From the beginning we have said that Mr Assange should face trial. But of course what is being requested is that he not be extradited to a third country where the death penalty is an option and as such his life could be endangered."
During Assange's stay in the embassy, Britain maintains a strong police presence outside the embassy, which is costing British taxpayers around $18,000 a day. The one year anniversary of Assange’s asylum bid occurs on Wednesday, bringing the total cost of policing the embassy in Knightsbridge to a figure exceeding $6.6 million.
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More about Julian Assange, Wikileaks, ecuadorian embassy, ricardo patino, William Hague
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