Ecuador promises to take care of Assange

Sept. 29, 2012 at 7:55 PM   |   Comments

NEW YORK, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- Ecuador will prevent Julian Assange from being arrested if he needs medical treatment by caring for him in its London embassy, Ecuador's foreign minister says.

The WikiLeaks founder took refuge in the embassy more than three months ago to avoid extradition from Britain to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning on sex assault allegations. Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino discussed the situation with British Foreign Secretary William Hague at the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York, The Guardian reported.

Assange appeared unwell when he addressed the General Assembly by video link this week. But Patino said he had not heard of any specific health problems.

Patino asked for a guarantee that Assange could be taken to a hospital without fear of arrest if he becomes ill. Hague said he would respond within a few days, but a British official said police have an obligation to arrest Assange as soon as he leaves the embassy.

"Maybe the Ecuadoreans should have thought of that before they granted him asylum," the official said.

Patino said that, if necessary, Ecuador would set up operating facilities in the embassy. Assange is an Australian citizen, and Patino said that government had offered to help if necessary.

"We know that anyone who lives in these conditions of confinement may easily suffer from health issues, not only physical but also psychological," he said. "Imagine you have to stay in a room for three months. Imagine if you are going to be five years in this confinement."

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