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Ecuador: Assange Can Stay in Embassy for 'Centuries'

Common Dreams staff

Assange speaks to media from a window at the Ecuadoran embassy in London (Photo: Reuters)

Ecuadoran officials stated Thursday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could remain inside the Ecuadoran embassy in London for "centuries" if need be, or essentially as long as he wanted.

Ecuadoran officials also said that the UK should renounce its "threat" to storm the country's London embassy, but that there has been no official contact with the UK Foreign Office since last Thursday.

Assange was granted political asylum in Ecuador last week, but remains trapped inside the London embassy. UK authorities continue to threaten arrest as soon as he steps out of the diplomatically immune building and said they may storm the Embassy to retain Assange if need be.

Additionally, the officials denied accusations there had been a secret deal to grant Assange asylum -- Assange's request, after he turned up at the embassy two months ago, was as much as surprise to them as anyone else.

Police presence around the building remains heavy after police surrounded the building earlier this week.

"It was amazing. There used to be four or six policemen since Mr Assange got here. Suddenly there were three trucks of police surrounding us. There were police on the interior stairs. There was even one in the window of the toilet. It was clearly a message," one Embassy official told the Guardian.

Asked how long Assange might remain at the embassy, an Ecuadoran official said: "However long it takes. Eight years. Two centuries."

Ecuador has continued to state that it is willing to negotiate with the UK -- requesting that both Sweden and the UK guarantee that Assange will not be extradited to the US. Assange faces extradition to Sweden from the UK for questioning over allegations of sexual assault; however, Assange believes the extradition is part of a plan to eventually send him to the US where he could face the death penalty for his work releasing embarrassing US diplomatic cables on his website WikiLeaks.

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