Julian Assange 'abandoned by Australia'

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Julian AssangeImage source, PA
Image caption,
Julian Assange's Wikileaks published leaked diplomatic cables

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange says he has sought refuge in Ecuador's London embassy because his native Australia has abandoned him.

Mr Assange is seeking diplomatic asylum to prevent him being sent to Sweden to answer accusations of rape and assault, which he denies.

In his first interview since entering the embassy, Mr Assange admitted there was no guarantee his bid would succeed.

Ecuador's president said the country was examining the case for asylum.

Mr Assange fears if he is sent to Sweden it could lead to him being sent to the United States to face charges over Wikileaks and that he could face the death penalty.

His Wikileaks website published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables that embarrassed several governments and international businesses.

In his interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp radio, Mr Assange, 40, said he did not know when the decision would be made.

Media caption,

Julian Assange speaks to ABC Radio National Breakfast from inside the Ecuadorean embassy

"We hope that what I am doing now will simply draw attention to the underlying issues," he said.

He said he had mounted his bid because his native Australia had made an "effective declaration of abandonment" by refusing to intervene in his planned extradition.

His mother, Christine, told the BBC: "My government is not my government any more. It's just a subsidiary of the United States. They got together to send him back to the US."

Mr Assange accused the US ambassador to Australia and the country's Prime Minister Julia Gillard of using "slimy rhetoric," he dismissed Canberra's claims he had been receiving ongoing consular assistance.

"We had heard that the Ecuadoreans were sympathetic in relation to my struggles and the struggles of the organisation with the United States," he said, explaining his decision.

Mr Assange is spending a third night in the embassy while inquiries by Ecuadorian diplomats continue.

Police say he faces arrest in the UK for breaching his bail conditions.

Media caption,

Kristinn Hrafnsson: 'Mr Assange is in good spirits and optimistic'

Mr Assange, whose bail conditions include staying at a named address between 22:00 and 08:00 BST, arrived at the embassy in Knightsbridge on Tuesday.


Speaking to BBC Mundo, the Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa said: "Ecuador defends the right to live and we will have to check if there is danger of death [for Mr Assange]."

He said that for some of the crimes Mr Assange has been accused of, he could face capital punishment if ever sent to the US.

Mr Correa added: "If there has been a breach of law [by Julian Assange], he should be prosecuted.

"But we have to be cautious in case they are making things up for an improper prosecution. We must analyse all that."

Last Thursday, seven judges at the UK's Supreme Court dismissed Mr Assange's attempt to reopen his extradition appeal as being "without merit".

Two female Wikileaks supporters alleged in 2010 that he had attacked them while he was in Stockholm to give a lecture. No charges have been filed.

Media caption,

President Rafael Correa says they are looking seriously and responsibly at the request

Mr Assange claims the sex was consensual and that the allegations are politically motivated.

The Australian has until 28 June to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. His lawyer, Dinah Rose QC, said he was considering whether to do this.

Swedish authorities have said the ECHR would intervene if Mr Assange was to face the prospect of "inhuman or degrading treatment or an unfair trial" in the US.

As part of Mr Assange's bail conditions, securities totalling £200,000 were lodged at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court.

A further £40,000 put up as sureties are thought to have been provided by socialite Jemima Khan and film director Ken Loach, who each offered £20,000.

Lawyers say bail would be forfeited only if Mr Assange failed to turn up for a scheduled court appearance.