Ecuador due to rule on Wikileaks' Julian Assange

Kristinn Hrafnsson: 'Mr Assange is in good spirits and optimistic'

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Ecuador is examining the asylum case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, the country's president has said.

Rafael Correa said Ecuador would make a "sovereign decision" after examining what danger there was to his life.

Mr Assange is at the country's London embassy, where he is seeking diplomatic asylum to prevent him being sent to Sweden to answer accusations of rape and assault, which he denies.

On Thursday Mr Assange said there was no guarantee his bid would succeed.

In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp radio, Mr Assange, 40, said he did not know when the decision would be made.

He said he had mounted his bid because his native Australia had made an "effective declaration of abandonment" by refusing to intervene in his planned extradition.

Accusing the US ambassador to Australia and Prime Minister Julia Gillard of using "slimy rhetoric," he dismissed Australian government claims he had been receiving ongoing consular assistance.

He had "heard that the Ecuadoreans were sympathetic in relation to my struggles and the struggles of the organization with the United States", Mr Assange said.

Death penalty

Earlier, a spokesman for Mr Assange told the BBC that as far as they were aware, his application was still being considered, and he was "in good spirits".

It is understood he will spend a third night in the embassy while inquiries by Ecuadorean diplomats continue.

Police say he faces arrest in the UK for breaching his bail conditions.

Mr Assange, whose bail conditions include staying at a named address between 22:00 and 08:00 BST, turned up at the embassy in Knightsbridge on Tuesday.

His website has published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables that embarrassed several governments and international businesses.

Mr Assange fears if he is sent to Sweden it could lead to him being sent to the United States to face charges over Wikileaks, for which he could face the death penalty.

Politically-motivated

Speaking to BBC Mundo, the Ecuadorean president said: "Ecuador defends the right to live and we will have to check if there is danger of death [for Mr Assange]."

He said that for some of the crimes Mr Assange has been accused of, he could face capital punishment if ever sent to the US.

Ecuador's President Rafael Correra says they are looking seriously and responsibly at the request

Mr Correa added: "If there has been a breach of law [by Julian Assange], he should be prosecuted.

"But we have to be cautious in case they are making things up for an improper prosecution. We must analyse all that."

Last Thursday, seven judges at the UK's Supreme Court dismissed Mr Assange's attempt to reopen his extradition appeal as being "without merit".

Bail money

Two female Wikileaks supporters alleged in 2010 that he had attacked them while he was in Stockholm to give a lecture. No charges have been filed.

Mr Assange claims the sex was consensual and that the allegations are politically motivated.

The Australian has until 28 June to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. His lawyer, Dinah Rose QC, said he was considering whether to do this.

Protesters at Ecuadorian embassy Demonstrators have gathered outside the embassy to protest against Mr Assange's potential extradition

Swedish authorities have said the ECHR would intervene if Mr Assange was to face the prospect of "inhuman or degrading treatment or an unfair trial" in the US.

As part of Mr Assange's bail conditions, securities totalling £200,000 were lodged at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court.

A further £40,000 put up as sureties are thought to have been provided by socialite Jemima Khan and film director Ken Loach, who each offered £20,000.

Lawyers say bail would be forfeited only if Mr Assange failed to turn up for a scheduled court appearance.

On Wednesday, Ecuador - whose president has previously clashed with Washington and is a fan of Wikileaks - said it would consult the UK, Sweden and the US before deciding on Mr Assange's asylum request.

UK government representatives met the Ecuadorian Ambassador Anna Alban at the Foreign Office on Wednesday for talks Ms Alban described as "cordial and constructive".

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