Julian Assange's future lies in the balance as Ecuador's presidential election goes down to the wire
Challenger Guillermo Lasso has vowed to kick the Wikileaks founder out of his London embassy sanctuary if he wins – and he is currently on course to force a second round of voting.
While establishment candidate Lenin Voltaire Moreno currently leads with 39.1 per cent of the vote, he is still just shy of the 40 per cent which would secure him the victory, according to exit polls.
His lead has been chipped away by Mr Lasso who is on 28.3 per cent, and Cynthia Viteri, on 16.4 per cent, who also vowed to kick him out.
Results are expected later today. If Mr Moreno does not secure 40 per cent of the vote another round of voting will take place in the coming weeks.
Facts about WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange Mon, August 22, 2016
WikiLeaks Founder, Julian Assange has led a very interesting and controversial life which has been at the centre of global debate
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It is believed that Julian Assange chooses to live in Sweden because the country's media laws are among the world's most protective for journalists
Julian Assange has been holed up in London’s Ecuadorian embassy since 2012, when he sought refuge to escape extradition on sexual assault charges.
He said he was innocent and the extradition was just an attempt to punish him for his whistle-blowing act of leaking tens of thousands of confidential US military files.
Julian Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012
Mr Lasso said before the vote the Ecuadorian taxpayer should not be forced to continue paying to host Mr Assange at their embassy.
He said: “The Ecuadorian people have been paying a cost that we should not have to bear.
“We will cordially ask Señor Assange to leave within 30 days of assuming a mandate.”
Protestors outside the Ecuadorian embassy
Ecuadorian foreign minister Guillaume Long also said the media attention and security pressure involved with hosting Mr Assange was proving too much to bear.
He said: “Our staff have been through a lot. There is a human cost.
Julian Assange faces a few nervous few hours
“This is probably the most watched embassy on the planet.
“It’s a very precarious position. In terms of his physical comfort we have done all we can. But there is no access to an outside space. There is no patio or garden so he has mostly spent four and a half years on the first floor of a building in London, where there is not much light, especially in winter.”
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