Ecuador decision on Assange asylum imminent: report

SYDNEY Thu Jun 21, 2012 3:20am EDT

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SYDNEY (Reuters) - Ecuador's deputy foreign minister said his government expects to make a decision on Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's asylum application within the next 24 hours, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported on Thursday.

Assange, seeking political asylum in Ecuador's embassy in London, faces arrest if he emerges for breaching bail terms imposed while he battles attempts to extradite him to Sweden, British police said.

"We still can't make a final decision public yet until tomorrow," the deputy minister, Marco Albuja, was quoted by the ABC as saying.

"The national government is considering its position and the president will give us his instructions tomorrow."

Assange, an Australian former computer hacker, has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since Tuesday.

He enraged the United States in 2010 when his WikiLeaks website published secret U.S. diplomatic cables and he says he fears he could be sent there where his life would be at risk.

On Wednesday, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa Ecuadorean said officials would take "as long as they need to" before making a decision on Assange's application.

Neither U.S. nor Swedish authorities have charged Assange with anything. Swedish prosecutors want to question him about allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two women, former WikiLeaks volunteers, in 2010. Assange says he had consensual sex with the women.

(Reporting by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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