International agreements and Ecuador’s constitution both mean it is a “complete impossibility” for the country to turn over someone who has been granted asylum, Ecuador’s Foreign Affairs Minister Ricardo Patino said.
Patino insisted that nothing would change, even under a new government. Ecuador’s next presidential election is scheduled for 2017.
Assange first sought refuge at the embassy on June 19, 2012, to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is under investigation on allegations of sexual assault.
The onetime Australian computer hacker, now 42, fears the extradition is a pretext for transferring him to the United States, where WikiLeaks sparked an uproar with its publication of a trove of secret government documents.
Britain refuses to allow Assange safe passage out of the embassy — and is spending a fortune on round-the-clock security.
A year ago, the British and Ecuadoran governments agreed to set up a working group to find a solution to the impasse, but there has been no sign of progress.