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US denies any intent to persecute Assange

world Updated: Aug 17, 2012 11:00 IST
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The US has denied having an intent to persecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been granted asylum by Ecuador and is currently in the South American country's embassy in London.

"If you're asking me whether there was any intention to persecute rather than prosecute, the answer is no," the state department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, told reporters in Washington, when asked about allegations that US is pressurising Britain on Assange.

"I'm not going to get into all of the legal ins and outs about what may or may not have been in his future before he chose to take refuge in the Ecuadorian mission. But with regard to the charge that the US was intent on persecuting him, I reject that completely," she said in response to a question.

The British foreign secretary William Hague has said that Britain does not recognise diplomatic asylum.

"Our British allies have cited British law with regard to the statements they have made about potential future action. I'm not in a position here to evaluate British law, as compared to international law," she said.

The United States, she said, has not involved itself in this.

Ecuador on Thursday granted political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, setting stage for an unprecedented diplomatic stand-off with the UK, which has threatened to extradite him to Sweden come what may.

Assange dramatically sought refuge in the Ecuadoran embassy in London to evade extradition to Sweden to face sexual assault charges,

Hague said on Thursday that Britain will not provide Assange a safe passage but admitted that there cannot be a time limit to resolve the imbroglio, indicating that the diplomatic stand-off may last for a long time.

Assange has ruffled many feathers by publishing classified diplomatic correspondence of the United States and other countries

WikiLeaks published over 2,50,000 confidential US diplomatic cables in 2010 that included information on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.