Ecuador tried to give Assange Russia post

Julian Assange fears extradition to the US if he leaves the Ecuadorean embassy

Julian Assange fears extradition to the US if he leaves the Ecuadorean embassyFRANK AUGSTEIN AP

The Reuters report comes a day after Paola Vintimilla, a member of the Ecuadorian parliament, started raising public questions about Julian Assange's status inside the country's London embassy and about the citizenship Assange was granted past year.

Russian officials had devised a covert plan to help Wikileaks founder Julian Assange escape to Russia from his Ecuadorian embassy hideout in London, a United Kingdom media report claimed on Friday. The paper, claimed that Ecuador's former London consul, Fidel Narvaez, was in talks with Russian diplomats and in constant contact with a "Russian businessman" who coordinated the proposed operation with the Kremlin.

"Special designation" refers to the Ecuadorean president's right to name political allies to a fixed number of diplomatic posts even if they are not career diplomats.

Were Assange to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has lived since 2012, he would nearly certainly be arrested by British authorities.

Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno had reached out to the Russians and Britain's Foreign Office for their approval.

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The plan was ultimately deemed "too risky" and aborted, the report said. The document came after Assange was granted citizenship there. "It is worth noting that attempts to picture Ecuadorian diplomats' meetings at the Russian embassy in the light of conspiracy theories do not stand up to criticism", the ministry stressed.

British authorities have said they will arrest Assange if he leaves the embassy, meaning he would have needed to be recognised as a diplomat in order to travel to Moscow. "Russia is always happy to welcome worldwide guests if they arrive in a lawful manner and with good intentions".

Mr Assange, 47, remains in hiding in a back room of the Knightsbridge building six years after losing a legal battle against extradition to Sweden for questioning on allegations of rape and sexual assault.

One tentative plan involved smuggling Mr. Assange out of the embassy in a diplomatic vehicle on Christmas Eve and transporting him to another country, possibly Russian Federation, where he stood a lesser risk of being extradited to the USA and tried on charges related to his WikiLeaks website, The Guardian reported.

Despite widespread speculation over the summer that he may soon be kicked out of the Ecuadorian embassy by Moreno as part of an effort to establish closer ties with the US, Assange's asylum status seems to be safe for now, his lawyer told RT on Thursday.

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