Ecuadoran minister laughs off Assange charges

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden where he faces sexual assault charges, has sought asylum in Ecuador's London embassy. (Reuters)

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden where he faces sexual assault charges, has sought asylum in Ecuador's London embassy. (Reuters)

"Personally, [I think] this is hilarious," Ecuadoran chief diplomat Ricardo Patino told reporters, explaining that Assange "is charged because his condom broke".

Assange is currently at the Ecuadoran embassy in London, seeking political asylum in the Latin American country.

Ecuadoran officials are examining the allegations of sexual misconduct in their review of Assange's application.

Patino said that one of the alleged victims filed a complaint, because she "realised that on certain nights, the condom broke".

Assange, an Australian, maintains he only had consensual sexual relations with the alleged victims.

WikiLeaks and Assange enraged the US by publishing a flood of secret information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The website founder fears that if extradited to Sweden, he will be subsequently re-extradited to the US to stand trial for espionage, on account of the 250 000 US diplomatic cables that were published.

British and Swedish authorities are awaiting Ecuador's decision regarding Assange's asylum application but Patino reported that investigations into the claims of the two alleged victims are ongoing.

Ecuador's leftist President Rafael Correa, who has often been at odds with Washington and offered Assange asylum in 2010, has said that the South American country will take its time considering the application. – AFP

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