Julian Assange 'declines' police order

  • Published
Media caption,
Susan Benn from the Julian Assange Defence Fund: ''Julian will remain in the embassy under the protection of the Ecuadorian government''

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is ignoring a Metropolitan Police order to surrender himself at a police station, his representative has said.

Susan Benn said he was advised to "decline to comply" and will remain inside the Ecuadorian embassy while his application for asylum is processed.

Officers from the Met's extradition unit delivered a note to Mr Assange at the London embassy on Thursday.

He wants to avoid being sent to Sweden to face rape and assault accusations.

Mr Assange fears that if he is sent to Sweden he could be sent on to the United States to face charges over Wikileaks and that there, he could face the death penalty.

The police letter required that the 40-year-old surrender himself to Belgravia police station at 11:30 BST on Friday.

Under international diplomatic arrangements, the police cannot go into the embassy to arrest Mr Assange.

Life and liberty

In a statement, Ms Benn, a committee member of Mr Assange's defence fund, said: "This should not be considered any sign of disrespect. Under both international and domestic UK law asylum assessments take priority over extradition claims.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Mr Assange is facing extradition to Sweden from Britain for questioning over alleged sex crimes

"The issues faced by Mr Assange are serious. His life and liberty and the life and liberty of his organisation and those associated with it are at stake."

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

Ms Benn said it was "only a matter of time" before US authorities begin extradition proceedings against him.

She said: "Mr Assange did not feel safe from US extradition in the UK. We are all too aware of the abuses of the US-UK extradition treaty. Although Mr Assange has been trapped in the UK under dangerous circumstances, he has at least had the freedom to apply for political asylum.

"It is in this context that Julian has made the difficult decision to seek refuge inside the Ecuadorian embassy to ask for asylum. Julian will remain in the embassy under the protection of the Ecuadorian government while evidence for his application is being assembled and processed."

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 19 June.