The diplomatic stand-off over Julian Assange’s extradition appeared to be easing on Sunday after Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said Britain had “given up its threat” to storm his country’s embassy in London to seize the WikiLeaks founder for breaching his bail conditions.
“We consider this unfortunate incident over, after a grave diplomatic error by the British in which they said they would enter our embassy,” he said following assurances from the British government that there would be no breach of the embassy’s diplomatic immunity.
The Ecuadorean government said it had received “a communication from the British Foreign Office which said that there was no threat to enter the embassy”.
Echoing the new conciliatory tone, the British Foreign Office “invited” Ecuador to open negotiations. It said “at no time has the U.K. government made any threat against the embassy of Ecuador”.
“We invite the government of Ecuador to resume, as early as possible, the constructive discussions we have held on this matter to date,” it said.
The move came a day after a police officer posted outside the embassy was photographed with a handwritten “brief” that Mr. Assange was to be arrested “under all circumstances” if he left the premises even in a diplomatic vehicle.
Scotland Yard insisted that “under no circumstances will an arrest be made in breach of diplomatic immunity”.
“Our object is to arrest Mr. Assange for breach of bail,” it said.
Mr. Assange has been holed up in the embassy since taking refuge there two months ago to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault allegations. He was granted asylum by Ecuador last week but Britain says it will not allow him safe passage insisting that it is under “obligation” to extradite him as he has exhausted all options.