July 27, 2018 / 9:31 AM / 23 days ago

I've never been in favor of Wikileaks' activities, says Ecuador president

MADRID (Reuters) - Ecuador’s president, signaling his government’s desire to end the long sojourn of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in its London embassy, said on Friday he had never supported Assange’s leaking activities.

FILE PHOTO: Ecuadoran President Lenin Moreno Garces addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

President Lenin Moreno confirmed a July 15 report in London’s Sunday Times that Ecuador and Britain were in talks to try to end Assange’s stay at the embassy where he successfully sought asylum in 2012.

Moreno said any eviction of Assange from the embassy had to be carried out correctly and through dialogue, but he displayed no sympathy for Assange’s political agenda as a leaker of confidential documents.

“I have never been in favor of Mr Assange’s activity,” Moreno said at an event in Madrid.

Australian-born Assange sought refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questioning about allegations of sex crimes which he has always denied.

Those allegations have since been dropped but Assange would be arrested by British police, should he leave the embassy, for breaching bail conditions.

Assange believes that would pave the way for extradition to the United States for the publication of a huge cache of U.S. diplomatic and military secrets on the WikiLeaks website.

FILE PHOTO: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks on the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London, Britain, May 19, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall/File photo

Moreno made his comments in Madrid where he had met King Felipe and Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez after a three-day visit to Britain.

When asked if he had spoken to the British government about Assange on his recent visit, Moreno said the two countries were in permanent contact about the matter.

“The only person I have never spoken to is Mr Assange,” he added.

The diplomatic impasse over Assange’s stay in Ecuador’s embassy is coming to a head, a source close to the Wikileaks founder said on Monday.

Ecuadorean and British government sources have played down suggestions of any imminent movement to break the stalemate.

Reporting by Sonya Dowsett; Writing by Isla Binnie; Editing by Stephen Powell

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