London – Julian Assange - the founder of Wikileaks - defied British authorities and said that he won't be leaving the Ecuadoran Embassy in London until he hears about his asylum bid, a member of his defense fund said Friday.
British police served Assange on Thursday with a demand that he report to a police station as the first step in his extradition to Sweden to face sex crime allegations.
"Mr. Assange has been advised that he should decline the police request," she told reporters gathered outside the embassy, saying that the 40-year-old Australian was seeking asylum from Ecuador and that "asylum assessments take priority over extradition claims."
The Metropolitan Police said it had "served a surrender notice upon a 40-year-old man that requires him to attend a police station at a date and time of our choosing. This is standard practice in extradition cases and is the first step in the removal process."
Assange had been widely expected to ignore the U.K. summons. He argues that the sex claims made against him by two Swedish women back in 2010 have been manipulated by his enemies and that extradition to Sweden is a first step in a plan to fly him to the United States, where officials are investigating him and his secret-spilling website over the disclosures of hundreds of thousands of confidential government documents.
Assange has fought extradition through the U.K. court system for the better part of two years. It was when his legal options ran out earlier this month that Assange made the dramatic decision to skip bail and seek refuge with Ecuador — a small Latin American nation whose leader has long expressed sympathy for WikiLeaks.
Assange is seeking political asylum in Ecuador in a bid to escape extradition for questioning about alleged rape and sexual assault against two women.
He denies the claims, and says the case against him is politically motivated.
Assange has said he fears the United States plans to charge him for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. documents via the secret-spilling WikiLeaks website. A U.S. soldier, Pfc. Bradley Manning, a 24-year-old Crescent, Oklahoma, native, has been charged with aiding the enemy by passing the secret files to WikiLeaks and is awaiting trial.
The 40-year-old Assange was arrested in London in December 2010 at Sweden's request and has spent the last 18 months on bail fighting extradition.
He has exhausted legal appeals in Britain, and has been ordered deported to Sweden.
British officials say he is beyond their reach as long as he stays in the embassy, but police say they will arrest him if he leaves for breaching his bail conditions.
Ecuador, whose left-wing President Rafael Correa has offered Assange words of support in the past, says it is considering his asylum request.