Skip to main content

Julian Assange to leave Ecuadorian Embassy in London 'soon'

By Faith Karimi, CNN
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1141 GMT (1941 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • WikiLeaks says "his departure is not imminent"
  • Assange is accused of sexual assault in Sweden
  • He says he fears Sweden will transfer him to the U.S.
  • If transferred to the U.S., he says he'll be charged for publishing government secrets

(CNN) -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said he'll leave the Ecuadorian Embassy in London "soon" after living there for two years to avoid extradition to Sweden.

"I can confirm I am leaving the embassy soon, but not for the reason you might think," Assange said at a news conference Monday.

He did not provide additional details but said he is suffering from health problems and would leave "when conditions are right."

However, WikiLeaks said, "his departure is not imminent."

Ecuador's foreign minister, who sat next to him, said his freedom is long overdue.

WikiLeaks to release new documents
Rap duo collaborates with Assange
Assange: It is 'embarrassing' for Obama

"The situation must come to an end ... two years is too long," Ricardo Patino said. "It is time to free Julian Assange. It is time for his human rights to be respected."

Swedish authorities want to question him over allegations that he raped one woman and sexually molested another.

He denies the allegations and describes them as politically motivated.

"I've not been charged with an offense in the UK or Sweden," he said Monday.

Patino said Swedish prosecutors have disregarded offers to get evidence from Assange via video conference or send prosecutors to the embassy.

As a result, he said, the case remains unresolved years later, an injustice to both Assange and the two women.

"The end result is these requests have not been heeded," Patino said.

Assange says he fears Sweden will transfer him to the United States, where he could face the death penalty if he is charged and convicted of publishing government secrets through WikiLeaks.

Last month, his lawyers argued that the detention order against him should be revoked.

But Stockholm District Court Judge Lena Egelin ruled that Assange is still suspected, with probable cause, of sex crimes and his detention order should remain in place.

After the decision last month, prosecutor Marianne Ny said the warrant could remain in place until the statute of limitations takes effect -- five years for unlawful coercion and 10 years for rape.

Assange rocketed to international fame when WikiLeaks began publishing secret government documents online.

In addition to the Guantanamo procedures manual, it also published documents related to U.S. activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, and diplomatic cables from U.S. embassies.

In August 2010, Swedish prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for him over allegations of sexual assault from two female WikiLeaks volunteers.

He turned himself in to London authorities the same year, and was remanded in custody.

At the time, a judge ruled that he should be extradited to Sweden, and Assange launched a series of appeals that went all the way to the British Supreme Court. It denied his appeal.

In June 2012, Assange fled to the Ecuadorian Embassy to seek asylum, which was granted in August of the same year.

He's been living at the embassy in London since then.

Caution thrown to wind as WikiLeaks breaks gag order

CNN's Sara Delgrossi, Atika Shubert and Claudia Rebaza contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
WikiLeaks
November 10, 2011 -- Updated 1738 GMT (0138 HKT)
From "Climategate" to leaked diplomatic cables, CNN takes an inside look at the WikiLeaks organization.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1802 GMT (0202 HKT)
A detention order against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on sexual assault allegations should remain in place, a Swedish judge ruled.
June 17, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
A U.S. soldier imprisoned for leaking documents to WikiLeaks broke her silence in a fiery editorial accusing the United States of lying about Iraq.
March 10, 2014 -- Updated 0044 GMT (0844 HKT)
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said that everyone in the world will be just as effectively monitored soon -- at least digitally.
January 3, 2014 -- Updated 0058 GMT (0858 HKT)
There have been other leaks before Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning.
July 31, 2013 -- Updated 0600 GMT (1400 HKT)
A military judge acquitted Army Pfc. Bradley Manning of aiding the enemy, but convicted him of violations of the Espionage Act for turning over a trove of classified data to the website WikiLeaks.
July 31, 2013 -- Updated 0050 GMT (0850 HKT)
Bradley Manning is naturally adept at computers, smart and opinionated, even brash, according to those who say they know him.
June 23, 2013 -- Updated 1634 GMT (0034 HKT)
assange snowden
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange urged the world to "stand with" Edward Snowden, the man who admitted leaking top-secret details about U.S. surveillance programs.
June 11, 2013 -- Updated 1146 GMT (1946 HKT)
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, knows something about secrets and what happens when they're exposed.
June 3, 2013 -- Updated 2311 GMT (0711 HKT)
Prosecutors say a 25-year-old Army private accused of aiding the nation's enemies through the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history "craved" notoriety.
August 16, 2012 -- Updated 1407 GMT (2207 HKT)
From the issuing of an arrest warrant, to a decision on Assange's asylum, see how the story has developed.
June 30, 2012 -- Updated 1949 GMT (0349 HKT)
Julian Assange is waiting to hear if Ecuador will grant him asylum. He's dangling from a cliff, for sure. Hanging by a pinky next to him -- WikiLeaks.
October 29, 2012 -- Updated 1625 GMT (0025 HKT)
Holed up in Ecuador's Embassy in London, Julian Assange talks at length about his life and motivations.
August 20, 2012 -- Updated 0020 GMT (0820 HKT)
Assange's move is dramatic, but he's not the first person to seek an escape route through a diplomatic mission. Here are some key precedents.
May 30, 2012 -- Updated 0931 GMT (1731 HKT)
assange
Assange is a self-appointed champion of free speech and the founder of a web operation that has greatly antagonized the U.S. government.
July 6, 2012 -- Updated 0102 GMT (0902 HKT)
WikiLeaks said it has begun publishing some 2.4 million e-mails from Syrian politicians, government ministries and companies dating back to 2006.
ADVERTISEMENT