Assange to stay in Ecuador embassy even if charges are dropped

London, June 19 (IANS) WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has vowed to remain in the Ecuadorian embassy in London even if accusations of sex crimes are dropped, BBC reported Wednesday.

Assange entered the embassy last June last year when his appeal against his extradition to Sweden for questioning was turned down.

The WikiLeaks founder has always denied the charges.

Assange told journalists at the embassy in Knightsbridge area that he believes it could take between six months and two years to resolve his case.

“My lawyers have advised me I should not leave the embassy because of the risk of arrest and extradition to the US,” he said.

Assange said there was a sealed indictment already lodged against him in the US which would lead to him being taken from Britain if he stepped outside the embassy.

“The strong view of my US lawyer is… I would be arrested, unless the British government gave information or guarantees that would grant me safe passage,” he said.

“We know there is an ongoing investigation in the US and we know I am a target of the federal grand jury. There is a 99.97 percent chance that I will be indicted.”

“So if the Swedish government drops their request tomorrow, I still cannot leave the embassy,” he said.

Assange said that previously he was under house arrest for almost 600 days and had to wear an electronic tag on his ankle and report regularly to the police.

“It is less stressful in the embassy,” he said, adding that there could however be long-term physical problems to staying indoors for so long.

He said it was not healthy not to have any sunlight, but rejected reports suggesting he was ill. Assange said he regularly exercised to keep fit.

The WikiLeaks founder has a sun lamp and treadmill as well as a computer where he says he spends 17 hours a day working.

The Metropolitan Police has estimated that the cost of policing the Ecuadorian embassy between June 2012 and end of May 2013 was 3.8 million pounds.

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