Ecuador refutes WikiLeaks, denies decision made to expel Julian Assange
Organization says it has been told founder could be kicked out within 'hours to days'
A senior Ecuadorian official said no decision has been made to expel Julian Assange from the country's embassy in London, despite tweets from WikiLeaks that sources had told it he could be kicked out within "hours to days."
A small group of protesters and supporters of the WikiLeaks founder gathered Thursday outside the embassy in London where Assange has been holed up since August 2012. He has feared extradition to the U.S. since WikiLeaks published thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables.
Earlier, WikiLeaks tweeted that a "high level source within the Ecuadorian state" said there was an agreement in place with British authorities to expel Assange.
Another tweet said it had received a secondary confirmation from another high-level source.
BREAKING: A high level source within the Ecuadorian state has told <a href="https://twitter.com/wikileaks?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WikiLeaks</a> that Julian Assange will be expelled within "hours to days" using the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/INAPapers?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#INAPapers</a> offshore scandal as a pretext--and that it already has an agreement with the UK for his arrest.<a href="https://t.co/adnJph79wq">https://t.co/adnJph79wq</a>—@wikileaks
Ecuador's foreign ministry released a statement saying it "doesn't comment on rumours, theories or conjectures that don't have any documented backing."
British police stationed armed officers outside the embassy; the red-brick building with white window frames and balconies was quiet. No embassy official or any British authorities commented on the WikiLeaks founder's status.
Asked about the presence of armed officers outside the Ecuadorian Embassy, London's Metropolitan Police force said there had been no change in police procedure.
Police said in a statement there is an active warrant for Assange's arrest and that the police are "obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the embassy."
Police withdrew the round-the-clock guard outside the embassy in October 2015 after more than three years in favour of what the service called a "covert" approach.
Ongoing tensions between Assange, hosts
Later, a top official said while Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno was angered by the apparent hacking of his personal communications, he denied WikiLeaks' claim and said no decision had been taken to expel Assange from the embassy. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the matter.
On Tuesday, Moreno blamed WikiLeaks for recent allegations of offshore corruption that appeared in local media outlets and the publication of family photos to social media.
Moreno accused WikiLeaks of intercepting phone calls and private conversations as well as "photos of my bedroom, what I eat, and how my wife and daughters and friends dance."
Moreno provided no evidence, but the speech reflected ongoing tension between Assange and his hosts at the embassy.
WikiLeaks in a statement called Moreno's charges "completely bogus," saying it reported on the accusations of corruption against the president only after Ecuador's legislature investigated the issue.
Assange's defence team suggested on Twitter that Moreno was trying to use the scandal to pressure the WikiLeaks founder.