QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador said on Wednesday the British government had threatened to raid its embassy in London if WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is not handed over, and that Quito would make its decision on his asylum request on Thursday.
“Today we’ve received a threat by the United Kingdom, a clear and written threat that they could storm our embassy in London if Ecuador refuses to hand in Julian Assange,” Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino told reporters.
“We are not a British colony,” he added in an angry statement after a meeting with President Rafael Correa.
Ecuador will announce its decision regarding Assange’s asylum request on Thursday at 7 a.m. (1200 GMT), he added, amid media speculation that the government has already decided to grant Assange asylum.
Former computer hacker Assange, who enraged Washington in 2010 when his WikiLeaks website published secret U.S. diplomatic cables, is wanted in Sweden to face trial for rape.
Assange has been taking refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since June 19. The Australian anti-secrecy campaigner says he fears he could be bundled to the United States where his life would be at risk.
Even if Ecuador gives him asylum, it is difficult to see how the WikiLeaks boss could physically leave the closely watched embassy and head to an airport without being arrested by British police.
Reporting by Jose Llangari, writing by Eduardo Garcia; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Sandra Maler