Ecuador to make Assange asylum bid decision 'this week'

Julian Assange Julian Assange has been at Ecuador's embassy in London since 19 June

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Ecuador's president has said he hopes to make a decision on whether Julian Assange will be granted political asylum in the country this week.

Rafael Correa said he would consult advisers on Wednesday before deciding.

Mr Assange, 41, took refuge at Ecuador's London embassy in June to avoid extradition to Sweden over rape and assault claims, which he denies.

The Wikileaks founder faces arrest for breaching the terms of his bail if he leaves the embassy.

But under international diplomatic arrangements, the police cannot enter to arrest him.

'Informed decision'

Mr Assange, who is Australian, enraged Washington in 2010 when Wikileaks released thousands of confidential US diplomatic cables.

Swedish prosecutors want to question him over the sexual assault allegations.

Mr Assange has said he fears if he is extradited he may later be sent to the US to face espionage charges, which could carry the death penalty. However, this argument was dismissed by prosecutors at his extradition hearing who said Sweden provided "protection against that sort of threat and violation".

On Monday evening, President Correa told public broadcaster ECTV it was necessary to examine a great deal of material about international law in order to make an informed decision.

"Hopefully this week we will be able to make a statement on the matter," he said.

Last month it was revealed that Ecuador would allow the Swedish authorities to interview Mr Assange at the embassy in Knightsbridge.

A Wikileaks spokesman said Mr Assange had been willing to be interviewed in London for 18 months and would welcome the chance.

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