Ecuador has asked Sweden to take WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's testimony regarding accusations of rape and sexual harassment, in London, the South American nation's top diplomat announced.
"Our ambassador in Sweden has begun steps to ask the Swedish government to collect the statement of Mr Assange where he is located, at the Ecuadoran embassy in London," said Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino yesterday.
Assange, 41, is seeking asylum in Ecuador to avoid his extradition to Sweden, where he is accused of sexual assault. The WikiLeaks founder fears that from Sweden, he could subsequently be re-extradited to the United States to stand trial for espionage, on account of the trove of leaked US diplomatic cables and military logs that were published on his website.
"This is the request we have made in an effort to protect Mr Assange's life at all costs," Patino added, joined at a press conference by Assange's mother, Christine.
Christine Assange met with Patino yesterday.
"I am sure the president and his aides will make the best decision in this case," she told government website El Ciudadano.
Ecuador will respond to Assange's request on August 12, Patino said, after the 2012 London Olympics.
"We will take decisions that do not affect our relations with Britain," Patino said, explaining that Quito would be careful not to do anything that could interfere in any way with the Olympic Games.