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Ecuador: Let's talk about not having Julian Assange on our sofa

Blighty's Foreign Sec mulls invitation for coffee and a chat

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Blighty's Foreign Secretary William Hague is considering an invitation to sit down with his Ecuadorian counterpart - and discuss what to do about their little Julian Assange problem.

The Ecuadorian foreign minister Ricardo Patino - due to arrive in London this month - has asked the UK Foreign Office for a chat about Assange, who has been hanging out in the South American country's London embassy for a year now.

Wikileaks chief Assange™ was granted asylum by Ecuador last June and immediately took refuge in the Knightsbridge offices to avoid extradition to Sweden.

The Foreign Office told The Register today that it had found out about Patino's trip on Friday and was considering the request for a meeting.

"UK Government officials have been in regular contact with representatives of the Ecuadorian Government, both in London and Quito, about Mr Assange. We hope the visit will contribute to our joint commitment to finding a diplomatic solution to this issue," a spokesperson said.

Assange wants to leave the embassy without being nabbed by cops and extradited to Sweden to face questioning over allegations of sexual coercion, sexual molestation and rape. He and Ecuadorian officials believe that efforts to whisk him away to Scandinavia are an American-hatched ploy to get him extradited on to the US. His website Wikileaks had dumped tens of thousands of US intelligence documents on the internet.

The American government has said it has no plans to charge Australian-born Assange nor has it made attempts to extradite him.

Meanwhile, US soldier Bradley Manning today appeared at a court martial accused of leaking 750,000 sensitive diplomatic files and military reports to Assange. Manning, 25, had pleaded guilty to 10 charges of misusing and transmitting classified information – which could land him 20 years in prison – but not guilty to the far more serious accusation of "aiding the enemy".

Assange was granted asylum by Ecuador's socialist president Rafael Correa on 19 June last year after he lost his High Court fight against extradition to Sweden. Assange denies any wrongdoing.

After setting up home in the Ecuadorian embassy, he was warned that British cops will arrest him if he steps outside the bureau. The Metropolitan Police has been forced to maintain a 24-hour watch on the building, which they said in February had cost Brits nearly £3m by that point. ®

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