Britain has indicated it wants an “amicable solution” to the diplomatic crisis over Wikileaks founder Julian Assange after Ecuador granted him political asylum. An Ecuadorean government spokesman said they had received a phone call from the Americas desk at the Foreign Office with a message they believed to have come from Foreign Secretary William Hague. It comes as its government said it had received a call from the UK Foreign Office saying temperatures on both sides needed to be cooled down.
Mr Assange took refuge at Ecuador’s embassy in London in June as he faced extradition to Sweden over sexual assault claims, which he denies. Ecuador announced on Thursday it had granted Mr Assange asylum, saying that his human rights might be violated if he is sent to Sweden. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London said it would not give a “running commentary” on what contacts had been made with the Ecuadoreans. But a spokesman said: “We hope that we can reach an amicable solution to the situation.”
The spokesman said that “as a result both sides will go back to near normal diplomatic conversations in seeking a solution to Mr Assange” and what would happen to him after completion of legal proceedings in Sweden. The Ecuadoreans say they are looking for guarantees that after any trial in Sweden there would be no further extradition, and for safeguards over how Mr Assange would be held in Sweden would be met.
Meanwhile, an extraordinary session of the Organization of American States (OAS) has begun in Washington to consider the situation between the UK and Ecuador, with the Ecuadorean representative taking the floor. The US, meanwhile, has said it “does not recognise the concept of diplomatic asylum as a matter of international law”. “We believe this is a bilateral issue between Ecuador and the United Kingdom and that the OAS has no role to play in this matter,” the US state department said in a statement.