Ecuador says Britain has guaranteed not to extradite Julian Assange

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Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno said on Thursday that there was a "path" for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to leave the South American country's London embassy, where he has lived for six years under asylum, if he so chooses.

It was not immediately clear what Mr Moreno meant by 'near-liberty'.

Moreno said he would prefer Assange hand himself over because of the cost Ecuador is paying after granting him asylum as well as for his own good.

Ecuador's foreign minister Jose Valencia said at the time that Britain was merely asking him to appear in court to answer for having broken his bail conditions, and that he was likely to get a sentence of no more than six months.

Mr Moreno said today that Mr Assange still faces jail time in Britain for violating bail terms when he sought sanctuary to avoid extradition to Sweden so authorities could quiz him as part of a sexual assault investigation.

Many speculate they would be connected to the release of classified information, and Mr Assange fears a long prison sentence in the United States for what his supporters say is publishing information in the public interest.

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While the exact charges against Assange remain unclear, WikiLeaks has served as a vehicle for release of thousands of classified USA military and diplomatic cables.

WikiLeaks has been a focus of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of any links between associates of President Donald Trump and Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Assange remains in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London as a political asylum seeker.

Moreno said Assange did not need to fear he would be transferred to a country where he could face the death penalty: "According to the British government, they would never extradite a person to a country where his life is at risk".

Assange's lawyer in Ecuador, Carlos Poveda, has told Sputnik that his client was ready to surrender to the UK authorities after receiving written guarantees from London that he would not be extradited to the United States or any other country.

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