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Julian Assange completes 5 years in Ecuadorean embassy

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, facing rape allegation in Sweden, on Monday marked the fifth anniversary of his life holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy here.

The 44-year-old is wanted for questioning over a 2010 rape allegation in Sweden but has been hiding in the embassy since he was given asylum as he fears being extradited to the US to be quizzed over the activities of Wikileaks if he travels to Sweden. His supporters have planned a series of demonstrations around the world, including London, Paris, Berlin, Brussels and Belgrade, under the banner ‘First They Came for Assange’. They will mark the beginning of what organisers have dubbed ‘Assange Week’, with further events planned for New York, Montevideo and Buenos Aires.

A UK Home Office spokesperson said that Assange has exhausted all his avenues of appeal under the Extradition Act 2003. “The UK has a legal obligation to extradite Julian Assange to Sweden, where he is wanted for an allegation of rape,” the spokesperson said. “The European Arrest Warrant in respect of Mr Assange was issued in full accordance with the law and has been upheld by the Supreme Court. We are clear that our laws must be followed and he should be extradited,” he said.

The Australian former computer hacker founded Wikileaks in 2006 and has been portrayed in two films in recent years. Assange has compared living inside the embassy to life on a space station.

His small room is divided into an office and a living area where he has a treadmill, shower, microwave and sun lamp and spends most of his day at his computer. He got a cat last month to keep him some company. Last month a Stockholm district court maintained a European arrest warrant against Assange, rejecting his lawyers’ request to have it lifted. “The court considers that Julian Assange is still suspected of rape…and that there is still a risk that he will abscond or evade justice,” it had said in a statement.

Assange plans to appeal the ruling.


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