Ecuador fears for Assange health, seeks UK safe passage

MOSCOW/LONDON Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:44am EDT

1 of 2. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange arrives to speak from the balcony of Ecuador's embassy, where he is taking refuge in London August 19, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Chris Helgren

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MOSCOW/LONDON (Reuters) - Ecuador is worried about the health of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and has asked Britain to guarantee him safe passage from its London embassy to hospital if he needs medical treatment, a senior Ecuadorean diplomat said in Moscow.

Assange, an Australian, has been holed up inside Ecuador's embassy in central London since June to avoid extradition to Sweden to face rape and sexual assault allegations.

British authorities say Assange will be arrested if he sets foot outside the embassy. The apartment building, located just behind London's famed Harrods department store, is under constant police surveillance.

"Assange has grown noticeably thinner, and we are very concerned about his health," Voice of Russia radio quoted Vice Foreign Minister Marco Albuja Martinez as saying in comments confirmed by the Ecuadorean embassy in Moscow.

"If he falls ill, we will have to choose between two alternatives: to treat Assange in the embassy or hospitalize him," Albuja Martinez said. "This is a very serious situation and it can affect Assange's human rights."

Ecuador has asked the British Foreign Office for a document that would enable Assange to enter hospital safely if necessary and return to the embassy with refugee status, the Voice of Russia quoted Albuja Martinez as saying.

The Foreign Office said it was unaware of Assange's health problems.

"Ecuador have not told us that Mr Assange is ill. However, were they to do so, we would consider the matter," said a Foreign Office spokesman.

Ecuador granted Assange asylum in August and said it shared his fears that he could face charges in the United States over the publication by WikiLeaks in 2010 of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

When he appeared on a balcony of the building to address supporters in August, Assange appeared tanned and in good health. But a BBC reporter who saw him recently described him as "a very pale man" in a story broadcast on Sunday.

Assange broke the conditions of his bail when he entered the embassy after running out of legal options to avoid being sent to Sweden.

Speaking about the safe passage request he said Ecuador had lodged with the Foreign Office, Albuja Martinez said his country was pleased that Britain "did not reject it outright".

"We will not put pressure on them and will patiently await an answer, so that Assange can receive medical treatment if necessary," he was quoted as saying in Moscow.

(Writing by Steve Gutterman and Maria Golovnina)

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Comments (9)
Redpalacesox wrote:
Let’s see now, he’s accused of rape by two women in Sweden but he claims it’s a smokescreen for Sweden to extradite him to the US. Sweden? Exradite anyone to the US? Excuse me, if that were the case a whole bunch of Vietnam War resistors would have sent back. No, this individual who believes he is a superior life form needs to face Swedish justice. I am more than willing to assume he is innocent unless proven guilty of these serious charges beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of Swedish law. However, it is an insult to all women and the peaceful and just nation of Sweden to claim that he is a “political” prisoner. He is anything but.

Oct 24, 2012 7:41am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Mjax wrote:
What’s wrong w/ having him treated @ a prison hospital?

Oct 24, 2012 8:14am EDT  --  Report as abuse
GhostMan wrote:
“Sweden? Exradite anyone to the US?”

Yes, through extraordinary rendition. They have already used it to send Australians falsely to the USA. Please stop giving away your ignorance

“a whole bunch of Vietnam War resistors”

It isn’t the 1970′s any more. Get with the times.

” this individual who believes he is a superior life form”

Oh god. Every single astroturfer and sockpuppet from reuters to the Huff has repeated that pathetic insult 100 times. In fact this whole argument, the same exact lies from pretend disbelierf, are old and tired

“insult to all women”

…to throw rape allegations at a man when half of the evidence used to implicate him so far has already been shown to be bogus

“He is anything but.”

Denying the truth wholeheartedly is still denying the truth

Oct 24, 2012 11:36am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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