The British government has confirmed its commitment not to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to a country that uses the death penalty. According to Ecuador Attorney General Iñigo Salvador, this means that Assange would not be sent to the U.S. to face espionage charges if he leaves Ecuador’s London embassy where he has lived under a grant of political asylum since 2012.
“This is an important guarantee from the British government,” Salvador says. “It meets the conditions of both the Ecuadorian government and Mr. Assange when he chooses to leave the embassy and face charges of bail violation in Britain.”
Assange and his attorneys say he may soon leave the embassy and face the British charges but only if there is a guarantee he will not be extradited to the U.S. The bail-jumping charges stem from 2011 rape charges by two Swedish prostitutes against Assange, which have since been dropped. Under British law, Assange could face six months of jail on the pending charges.
In a Wednesday meeting with foreign media, Salvador displayed a letter from British Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt confirming the extradition conditions. “I have forwarded the letter to Mr. Assange’s attorneys so they are aware of the position of the British government,” he said. Assange attorneys have been in direct contact with British authorities regarding a possible surrender.
Britain has refused to allow Assange safe passage to Ecuador. It has also refused to recognize diplomatic status for Assange, which Ecuador proposed early this year.
“We are hopeful that the situation with Mr. Assange will be resolved soon and believe that the British government’s reaffirmation that he will not face the death penalty will lead to that resolution,” Salvador said. He added that Assange realizes that it is time he leave the embassy. “We believe he and his attorneys will reach a decision soon.”