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Britain "disappointed" by Ecuador's decision to grant Assange asylum

08-16-2012 23:29 BJT

LONDON, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- British Foreign Office expressed disappointment after Ecuador announced its decision to grant Wikileaks founder Julian Assange political asylum on Thursday.

"We are disappointed by the statement from Ecuador's Foreign Minister that Ecuador has offered political asylum to Julian Assange," the Foreign Office said in a statement.

"Under our law, with Mr Assange having exhausted all options of appeal UK authorities are under binding obligation to extradite him to Sweden. We shall carry out that obligation," it said.

"We remain committed to a negotiated solution that allows us to carry out our obligations under the Extradition Act," the Foreign Office added.

Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino announced the decision earlier on Thursday, saying the country believed Assange's fears of receiving unfair trial and eventually being extradited to the United States are legitimate.

Patino accused Britain of threatening to storm the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Wednesday, after receiving a letter from the British government.

"Today we received from the United Kingdom the express threat, in writing, that they could assault our embassy in London if Ecuador didn't hand over Julian Assange. We want to make this absolutely clear. We are not a colony of Britain," he said in a press conference in Quito.

The British Foreign Office, for its part, insisted on fulfilling its "obligation" to extradite Assange without denying the "threat."

Britain's Supreme Court dismissed Assange's appeal in May, paving the way for his extradition to Sweden over alleged sex crimes. Assange took refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in June to avoid extradition.

The 41-year-old Australian who founded the Wikileaks website has embarrassed several governments, including the United States authorities, by publishing millions of secret diplomatic cables on the Internet.

Since his arrest in Britain in December 2010, Assange fought a lengthy legal battle against extradition, fearing that his return to Sweden would lead eventually to his extradition to the United States to face the anger of the authorities over his publishing of the diplomatic cables.


Editor:Zheng Limin |Source: Xinhua

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