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Going Or Staying? Julian Assange Claims He Is Leaving Ecuadoran Embassy, Or Maybe Not

Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino, centre back, talks to the media, with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, back right, during a press conference inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where Assange he confirmed he "will be leaving the embassy soon", Monday Aug. 18, 2014.  The Australian, Assange fled to the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012 to escape extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted over allegations of sex crimes. (AP Photo / John Stillwell, POOL)

Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino, centre back, talks to the media, with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, back right, during a press conference inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where Assange he confirmed he "will be leaving the embassy soon", Monday Aug. 18, 2014. The Australian, Assange fled to the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012 to escape extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted over allegations of sex crimes. (AP Photo / John Stillwell, POOL)

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..

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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.

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