x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Ecuador claims UK threatened to storm embassy to arrest Assange

Ricardo Patino also said his government will announce today its decision on whether it would grant Julian Assange's request for political asylum.

QUITO // Ecuador's foreign minister said Britain had threatened to storm his country's London embassy to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Ricardo Patino also said his government will announce today its decision on whether it would grant Mr Assange's request for political asylum.

Mr Patino said Ecuador received "a written threat that it could assault our embassy" from Britain if Assange, who took refuge in the embassy on June 19, was not handed over.

Mr Patino said the threat was delivered to Ecuador's foreign ministry in writing and verbally to the country's ambassador in London.

He said Ecuador "rejects in the most energetic terms the explicit threat of the official British communication," which he said Ecuador's ambassador in London, Ana Alban, received in a phone call.

President Rafael Correa hopes to announce a decision today on Mr Assange's asylum request and Mr Patino said high-level consultations had occurred with Britain and Sweden.

The Australian, whose publishing via the internet of thousands of sensitive US documents including diplomatic cables and military dispatches, took refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces questioning for alleged sexual misconduct.

Mr Assange's supports say the charges are trumped up and believe the U. has secretly indicted him and would extradite him from Sweden.