Ecuador president says Julian Assange must leave embassy eventually

Ecuador’s president has said Julian Assange must leave his country’s London embassy eventually.

The WikiLeaks founder has been in hiding in the building since 2012 when he was accused of rape in Sweden – a charge that was eventually dropped.

Ecuadorian president Lenín Moreno revealed he had been in talks with the UK government about Assange’s situtation.

Speculation about Assange’s future has grown after the Sunday Times reported senior officials from Ecuador and Britain were now in discussion about how to remove him from the embassy after revocation of his asylum.

And a source close to him told Reuters the situation was coming to a head, adding: "It’s not looking good."

Despite the rape allegation against Assange being dropped, he has refused to leave the embassy while a separate UK arrest warrant for breaching his bail conditions remains in effect.

He lost a bid to have the bail offence thrown out earlier this year by a judge who described Assange as feeling "he is above the law".

The WikiLeaks founder says he fears extradition to the United States for questioning over the activities of the website if he leaves the building in leafy Knightsbridge.

Assange accused the UK of a "cover-up" to keep him detained and his lawyer Jennifer Robinson said the British government had refused to confirm or deny whether there is an extradition request from the US.

WikiLeaks caused an international storm in 2010 when it published a series of leaks from US soldier Chelsea Manning.

The leaks enraged Washington and included thousands of secret US diplomatic cables that were highly critical of world leaders, including Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s royal family.

He was seen as a cyber-hero by some for exposing government abuses of power and championing free speech, but to others he was viewed as a criminal who undermined the security of the West by exposing secrets.

He has recently been accused of speaking to Russian hackers trying to block the election of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 United States presidential election.

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