A major diplomatic row is brewing with Ecuador accusing the UK of threatening to raid its London embassy if the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange isn’t handed over. He’s been taking refuge there for two months.
In the Ecuadorean capital of Quito, the country’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino condemned the threat and warned that such action would be considered a hostile act as well as a violation of sovereignty:
“Today we’ve received a threat by the United Kingdom, a clear and written threat that they could storm our embassy in London if Ecuador refuses to hand in Julian Assange. We want to make it absolutely clear that we are not a British colony and that the times of the colony are over.”
Ecuador will announce its decision regarding a request for asylum by Assange later today amid speculation it has already decided to grant it.
The former computer hacker fled to the embassy in June after losing his battle against extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual offences.
But Assange fears he could be sent to the US where he would be punished for publishing secret US diplomatic cables in 2010.
Britain says it must uphold its legal obligations and would prefer a diplomatic solution.