Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, led reporters gathered at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to believe that he would be leaving the compound "soon," but a spokesman for the journalist website that publishes leaked documents from anonymous sources, indicated that maybe Assange overstated the case.
Assange, who has been holed up in the embassy since 2012 avoiding extradition to Sweden on allegations of sex crimes against two women as well as potential espionage charges in the United States, was recently quoted in the British press as saying that he was ready to leave the embassy to seek medical treatment.
Monday morning, the 43-year-old Australian spoke at a press conference after meeting with Ecuadorean Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patiño.
When asked about the press account, Assange declined to answer directly, instead pointing to Kristinn Hrafnsson, the WikiLeaks spokesman, who was in the back of the room.
"He said I can confirm that I am leaving the embassy soon, but perhaps not for the reasons that (news media) are saying," Assange said..
Best Pix Of The Week
Calle 13 Singer Compares Puerto Ricans And Palestinians: Both Have "Cosmetic" Governments
Robin Williams dies, one of his earliest co-stars reacts
Best Pix Of The Year
Diplomatic Tiff Over Ecuadorian Brothers, Obama Campaign Donors Fighting Extradition
'Dora the Explorer' is all grown up and heading to the city
Oliver Stone & Michael Moore: Ecuador, Give Julian Assange Asylum!
Mayhem Outside London Courthouse During Assange Hearing
He refused to elaborate on the awkwardly worded statement.
Leaving the embassy would be a big move for Assange, who has remained trapped in the building since he sought refuge there more than two years ago. Assange is seeking to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted over sex crimes allegations, or the United States, where authorities are investigating his spectacular disclosures of secret information.
As bewildered journalists huddled after the press conference, Hrafnsson said that what Assange meant to convey was that he was ready to leave the embassy as soon as the British government gave him the guarantees he was seeking, namely the right to travel freely to Ecuador where he has asylum.
"The plan is to leave as soon as the U.K. government decides to honor its obligations," Hrafnsson said, repeating Assange's long-held position.
That seems unlikely to happen anytime soon. Patino said Monday negotiations between Ecuador and the U.K. remain deadlocked.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.