Ecuador 'very concerned' about Assange's health: report
MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
AP photoEcuador is 'very concerned' about the health of Julian Assange after the WikiLeaks founder lost a lot of weight while staying at the country's embassy in London, a foreign ministry official said this week while in Moscow.
The deputy foreign minister of Ecuador, Marco Albuja, expressed his concern for Assange as he gave a briefing to Russian press after wrapping up his delegation's visit to Russia.
"Assange has visibly lost weight, and we are very concerned for his health," he said, quoted by the Voice of Russia radio. "In case of his illness we will have to pick among two options: to treat Mr Assange at the embassy or to hospitalise him." Ecuador has asked the British government for written assurances that Assange, who has been granted asylum by Quito and remains holed-up in the embassy building in London, will not be arrested in case of hospitalisation.
"So far Britain has not agreed to this request but is thinking it over," Albuja said.
The Ecuadorean embassy in Moscow said Wednesday that the delegation was in Moscow to meet with Russian foreign ministry officials and discuss bilateral affairs such as flower trade.
Former computer hacker Assange, 41, walked into the London embassy on June 19 claiming asylum in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces questioning over alleged rape and sexual assault.
He was granted asylum on August 16 but Britain refuses to grant him safe passage out of the country, and he remains in the embassy with Ecuador in a diplomatic stalemate with Britain.
Assange denies the sex crimes allegations and claims he could eventually be passed from Sweden to the United States for prosecution over the WikiLeaks website's publication of hundreds of thousands of classified US documents.
WikiLeaks enraged Washington in 2010 by publishing a flood of secret military files on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a huge cache of diplomatic cables from US embassies across the world.