‘I am leaving the embassy soon, but not for the reasons you'll read in the Murdoch press and on Sky News.’
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange might finally be about to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge, London, more than two years after he first sought political asylum from the country.
During a press conference called for this morning, Assange said: "I am leaving the embassy soon, but not for the reasons you'll read in the Murdoch press and on Sky News."
There were widespreads reports yesterday that Assange had developed a "potentially life-threatening heart defect and a chronic lung condition" during his confinement in the embassy, while Sky News Crime Correspondent Martin Brunt said that it has been "made clear" by those around Assange that he is "quite ill".
Assange denied these claims, saying that it was only natural that "certain difficulties" would arise as a result of his confinement.
"As you can imagine, being detained in various ways in this country without charge for four years and in this embassy for two years which has no outside area, therefore no sunlight... it is an environment in which any healthy person would find themselves soon enough with certain difficulties they would have to manage."
Ecuadorian foreign minister Ricarod Patino told journalists that the country would continue to work with Sweden and the UK to solve the diplomatic stand-off, but would continue to offer Assange protection from political persecution.
Assange is wanted in Sweden over allegations that he sexually assaulted two women, which he denies. He has repeatedly said that he fears extradition to the US if he faces questioning in Sweden.
"The situation must come to an end," Patino said. "Two years is too long. It is time to free Assange. It is time for his human rights to be respected."
Assange did not offer any more details about when or how he would be leaving the embassy, which was pretty quickly called out by some:
So Assange is leaving, but not now, and not for anything to do with health. We've really clarified that.— Bernard Keane (@BernardKeane) August 18, 2014
This is basically that press conference about nothing from the 1st series of The Thick Of It, isn’t it? #assange— Francis Whittaker (@frittaker) August 18, 2014
Exactly how Assange will leave the Ecuadorian embassy is unclear, although that hasn't stopped people from speculating:
Pretty sure this is how Julian Assange is planning to escape. pic.twitter.com/OLWyKVwD4e— Carl Maxim (@carlmaxim) August 18, 2014
On the other hand, the Wikileaks mastermind is also releasing a book, When Google Met WikiLeaks, in exactly one month's time. So maybe this is all part of a plan?