WikiLeaks’ Assange Hopes To Exit London Embassy

(Reuters) -

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has spent over two years in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid a criminal inquiry in Sweden, said on Monday he planned to leave the building “soon,” but Britain signaled it would still arrest him if he tried.

Assange made the surprise assertion during a news conference alongside Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino. But his spokesman played down the chances of an imminent departure, saying the British government would first need to revise its position and let him leave without arrest, something it has repeatedly refused to do.

The 43-year-old Australian fled to the embassy in June 2012. He says he fears that if extradited to Sweden he would then be handed over to the United States, where he could be tried for one of the largest information leaks in U.S. history.

Assange would be arrested if he exited the London embassy because he has breached his British bail terms.

“I am leaving the embassy soon … but perhaps not for the reasons that Murdoch press and Sky news are saying at the moment,” Assange told reporters at the embassy in central London.

Britain’s Sky News, part owned by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, had earlier reported that Assange was considering leaving the embassy due to deteriorating health.