Assange extradition negotiations hit a wall

In an unusual appearance at the Ecuadorian embassy, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange claimed the U.S. government is persecuting him. Kelly Cobiella reports. Charlie Osborne/CNET

Julian Assange
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange reads out a statement from a balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London on Aug. 19, 2012
AP

(CBS News) Julian Assange better have a comfortable air mattress. It looks like he may be sleeping on the floor of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for a while.

A senior Ecuadorean diplomat tells CBS News negotiations have hit a wall over Assange's extradition to Sweden.

The sticking point is the European Arrest Warrant for Assange, which takes precedence over any other issue Assange -- and now everybody else involved in the case -- faces.

Ecuadorean negotiators have been trying to get assurances in writing from the Swedish government that Assange would not be at risk of extradition to the United States.

Assange has been holed up in the embassy since June, jumping bail after losing his fight against extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations of rape and sexual assault against two women.

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The Ecuadorians want the Swedes to specifically insert wording into the extradition warrant that Assange would have 45 days at the "end of the legal process" to be free to leave Sweden to any country that would have him.

By the "end of legal process," that means at the end of questioning and release, if that's the case.

If Assange is charged, found guilty and sentenced, the 45 days would start after his sentence has been served.

The diplomat says the negotiations had been making progress after no less than 20 meetings between Ecuadorean officials, the Swedish foreign office and the British Foreign and Commonwealth office. That was until last Wednesday's threat - or perceived threat - by the British government to revoke the Embassy's diplomatic status. Relations are not yet back to normal.

A spokesman from the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs said that by law it is not possible to promise Assange that he will not be extradited.

He repeated that at no point has a request for Assange's onward extradition to the US been issued to anyone. Further, he said it would make more sense for that request to be submitted to the UK, considering Assange currently resides ther and the UK is a much closer ally of the US,.

He reiterated that Sweden's case is simple: there are questions over sexual assault allegations and that the two alleged victims should not be forgotten. They have a right by law for their case to be heard. Wikileaks is a non-issue in this case.

Sources close to Julian Assange have said he would be willing to give himself up and face his Swedish accusers in return for a promise he would not be handed over to the US.

Downing Street confirmed Monday that Assange would not be granted safe passage to Ecuador, but said the government was still trying to find a diplomatic solution.

  • Charlie D'Agata

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