Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa said he expects to respond to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s application for political asylum some time this week.
“Hopefully this week we will be able to make a statement on the matter,” the leftist leader said in an interview with public broadcaster ECTV late Monday.
Assange, 41, took refuge at Ecuador’s embassy in London on June 19 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is accused of sexual assault.
“We expect to have a meeting no later than Wednesday,” Correa said, referring to his diplomats in London.
The WikiLeaks founder fears that from Sweden, he could subsequently be re-extradited to the United States to stand trial for espionage, after a trove of leaked US diplomatic cables and military logs were published on his website.
Correa has often been at odds with Washington and offered Assange asylum in 2010.
He has said the mere possibility that Assange could face capital punishment in the United States could be reason enough for his government to grant the activist’s asylum request.
He has vowed that his government would not yield to pressure from Britain, Sweden or the United States in deciding whether to grant Assange asylum.
Assange’s mother and former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon recently traveled to Ecuador to argue in favor of granting him asylum.
Even if Ecuador decides to grant Assange political asylum, it remains to be seen if British authorities would allow him to leave the country. In the absence of a safe conduct agreement between Quito and London, he could stay on embassy grounds indefinitely.