Hague: Diplomacy possible in Assange issue

Sept. 3, 2012 at 1:18 PM
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LONDON, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he believes a diplomatic solution is possible in the stalemate with Ecuador over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Ecuador granted Assange political asylum as he fights extradition to Sweden to answer questions concerning allegations of sexual assault. Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London since June.

Hague called the situation "a matter of regret," and one that has strained British-Ecuadoran relations, The Daily Telegraph reported Monday.

In a written statement to the House of Commons, Hague expressed hope that progress could be made through renewed talks.

Hague told lawmakers several formal discussions and "many other conversations and written exchanges" have taken place, the Telegraph reported.

In his letter to lawmakers, Hague also said any suggestion that Assange's extradition to Sweden posed risks to the 41-year-old Australian's human rights was "completely unfounded."

Ecuador also was assured that fears Assange could be extradited to the United States from Sweden were "without foundation," Hague said. Assange had expressed fear Sweden would extradite him to the United States over the publication on WikiLeaks of hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and diplomatic matters.

In a recent television interview broadcast in Ecuador, Assange said he thought the extradition matter would be resolved within six to 12 months. Ecuador granted him asylum Aug. 16.

"We wish to continue our dialogue with the government of Ecuador," Hague said. "We believe that our two countries should be able to find a diplomatic solution."

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