Britain ‘is in secret talks with Ecuador in bid to evict Julian Assange from South American country’s London embassy’

Britain ‘is in secret talks with Ecuador in bid to evict Julian Assange from South American country’s London embassy’

By Joe Middleton For Mailonline

06:01 EDT 15 Jul 2018, updated 08:14 EDT 15 Jul 2018

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• Senior officials and ministers in high-level talks to decide Assange’s fate

• Ecuadorian President Moreno called Assange a ‘stone in the shoe’ and a ‘hacker’

• The discussions come just weeks before President Moreno visits the UK

• Assange has been living in the embassy in Knightsbridge since June 2012

Britain is in secret talks with Ecuador to evict Wikileaks founder Julian Assange from its embassy in London.

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Senior foreign officials, believed to include the Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan,  are in talks to try and decide Mr Assange’s future.

He has been living at the embassy in Knightsbridge, in London, since June 2012 and is fearful he will be extradited to the United States if he leaves.

The top-level discussions come just weeks before a UK visit by new Ecuador President Lenin Moreno who has previously called Assange a ‘hacker’ and a ‘stone in the shoe’, according to The Sunday Times.

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<img id=”i-f488574323f5a6ac” class=”img-share” src=”https://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/newpix/2018/07/15/10/06110067000003E8-0-image-a-18_1531645633739.jpg&#8221; width=”634″ height=”423″ alt=”Britain is in secret talks to evict Wikileaks founder Julian Assange (pictured at the Ecuadorian embassy in London) “/>

Britain is in secret talks to evict Wikileaks founder Julian Assange (pictured at the Ecuadorian embassy in London) 

Sources close to Assange believe his political asylum cannot be revoked and that he was not aware of the high-level talks.

In a recent visit to Ecuador in late-June US Vice President Mike Pence raised the issue’ of the Australian anti-secrecy activist.

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Foreign Minister Jose Valencia said: ‘Ecuador and the United Kingdom, and of course Mr Assange as a person who is currently staying, on asylum, at our embassy’

‘It does not enter, therefore, on an agenda with the United States.’

Assange was given political asylum under Moreno’s predecessor Rafael Correa, but it has been far from smooth sailing with the new administration.

Mr Assange’s internet was cut off in March this year and restrictions were placed on who could visit him.

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<img id=”i-10bc944021092ae7″ class=”img-share” src=”https://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/newpix/2018/07/15/10/4E445B3E00000578-0-image-a-19_1531647073236.jpg&#8221; width=”634″ height=”423″ alt=”Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan, pictured at the Western Balkans summit in July, is believed to be involved in the talks”/>

Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan, pictured at the Western Balkans summit in July, is believed to be involved in the talks

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<img id=”i-1bf49af17f6eb77b” class=”img-share” src=”https://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/newpix/2018/07/15/10/408BB4A000000578-0-image-a-22_1531647895640.jpg&#8221; width=”634″ height=”423″ alt=”Julian Assange, pictured on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy where he has been living for more than six years “/>

Julian Assange, pictured on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy where he has been living for more than six years 

President Moreno also ordered the removal of extra security at the embassy which has cost the country at least £3.7 million.

The operation – initially called ‘Operation Guest’ and later ‘Operation Hotel’ – ran up an average cost of at least $66,000 (£48,885) a month.

While in the embassy Mr Assange’s physical and mental health is believed to have deteriorated.

Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy – a timeline

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<img id=”i-66669ef2cff65e35″ class=”img-share” src=”https://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/newpix/2018/07/15/10/4E445B4700000578-0-image-m-21_1531647124174.jpg&#8221; width=”634″ height=”625″ alt=”President Lenin Moreno (pictured) is due to visit the UK and described Julian Assange as ‘a stone in the shoe'”/>

President Lenin Moreno (pictured) is due to visit the UK and described Julian Assange as ‘a stone in the shoe’

Foreign Office Minister previously Sir Alan Duncan previously branded Mr Assange a ‘miserable little worm’ during a Commons debate in March, adding he should leave the Ecuadorean embassy and surrender to British justice.

The news comes at a difficult time for Mr Assange after 12 Russians were indicted for hacking Hilary Clinton’s emails during her campaign to become President in 2016.

Wikileaks- which he founded- published the emails during the tightly fought election race which was eventually won by Donald Trump.

CIA head calls Wikileaks ‘a hostile intelligence

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