Quito: Ecuador could soon reveal whether it will grant asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who has been holed up at the country's embassy in Britain for nearly two months.

Quito announced last month that it would respond to the request after the Olympic Games in London, which wrapped up on Sunday. President Rafael Correa is due to appear on state television on Tuesday evening at 0200 GMT. However, government officials contacted by agency were unable to say whether he would announce a decision at that time.

Assange sought refuge at Ecuador's London embassy on June 19 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning about allegations of rape and sexual assault.

The 41-year-old Australian fears he could be extradited to the United States from Sweden to stand trial for espionage, on account of the trove of leaked US diplomatic cables and military logs published on his whistleblower 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.


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