Wikileaks’ Assange digs in for long stay in Ecuador embassy

By staff

Julian Assange says he expects to stay in Ecuador's embassy in London for up to a year, after diplomacy with Britain over his case resumed.

The Wikileaks founder has estimated the deadlock will be resolved in between six and 12 months in an interview with Ecuadorian television.

Britain wants to extradite Assange to Sweden, where he faces sexual offences charges. But he has taken refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in west London, where he is protected by diplomatic immunity. He fears Sweden would bow to pressure from the US to extradite him to America over the release of damaging diplomatic cables.

"I think the situation will be solved through diplomacy… the Swedish government could drop the case," Assange said in the interview on the Gama television network.

"I think this is the most likely scenario. Maybe after a thorough investigation of what happened they could drop the case."

Assange's optimism came after Ecuador's vice president Lenin Moreno met with foreign secretary William Hague yesterday during a visit for the Paralympics.

The pair's pursuit of a diplomatic solution to the crisis follows Britain's threat to raid the embassy through force, which resulted in intense hostility from Quito.

Now relations are thawing sufficiently for talks to take place, but it is far from clear that either side is willing to back down.

Hague said yesterday: "Given Ecuador's position on what they call diplomatic asylum and our very clear legal position… a solution is not in sight at the moment."