By RANDY KREIDER
In a South American television interview, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says that he thinks he could be living in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for up to a year, and that the Swedish government could drop its sexual assault investigation.
Assange, 41, has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy since June, when he fled there after British authorities okay his extradition to Sweden. The Swedish government wants to question Assange about allegations of assault made by two women. The Ecuadorean government officially granted Assange asylum earlier this month, but British authorities have said they will arrest him if he leaves the embassy.
Assange told Telesur, a channel seen in Ecuador and neighboring countries, that he thinks it will take six to 12 months for a resolution of his situation, and that he expects the standoff will be solved via diplomacy or through “an unusual world occurrence that we can’t predict.”
He said war with Iran, the outcome of the U.S. election or the “Swedish government dropping the case” could end the impasse. “I think this is the most likely scenario,” said Assange. “Maybe after a thorough investigation of what happened [Swedish authorities] could drop the case.”
In the interview, he also asserted that both he and his organization were the subject of political persecution. “Ecuador has been correct in showing its values in this case,” said Assange,
Assange has said that he sought asylum because he feared the Swedish government could deliver him into U.S. custody. WikiLeaks has released thousands of State Department cables and other sensitive U.S. government information. The Ecuadorian cited the threat of Assange’s extradition to the U.S. in granting Assange’s asylum request.
The Ecuadorean government has claimed that the U.K. has threatened to invoke a national law that would allow it to revoke the embassy’s protected diplomatic status and take Assange from the embassy, an apartment in Knightsbridge, by force.
British foreign minister William Hague has denied that the U.K. has issued any threat to storm the embassy. This week, Hague said that “given Ecuador’s position on what they call diplomatic asylum and our very clear legal position, such a solution is not in sight at the moment.”
In August 2010, police in Sweden began investigating accusations of sexual assault against Assange made by two women. According to British police documents, one of the accusers claims Assange pulled her clothes off, pinioned her arms and legs and refused to use a condom. She told a friend that the act was both violent and the worst sex she’d ever had. A British attorney representing Swedish prosecutors told the court earlier this year that Assange had raped the second woman while she was sleeping.
In May, the U.K. upheld the validity of the Swedish prosecutor’s arrest warrant, making him subject to extradition to Sweden by the end of June. He had been living under house arrest at the mansion of a supporter in the English countryside. He sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy on June 19.