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WikiLeaks' Assange defiant over UK police request

Neil Hall / Reuters

A police officer stands guard outside Ecuador's Embassy in London where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has taken refuge on June 22.

LONDON - Julian Assange will not leave his embassy refuge on Friday to enter a British police station as part of his extradition process to be questioned in Sweden about sex-crime allegations, a lawyer for the WikiLeaks founder said.

Assange, 40, has been holed-up in Ecuador's embassy in London since he made a surprise application for political asylum last week.


In a statement in front of the embassy, Assange's lawyer Susan Benn confirmed he would not comply with the police request to surrender himself and would remain in the embassy while evidence for his application for his political asylum is processed.

NBC News partner ITV News's coverage of Assange: 'Not going near a police station soon'

She said there is a "legal process in place which would involve Julian being taken to the U.S." if he is extradited to Sweden to answer rape allegations. It is "only a matter of time" before the U.S. attempts to extradite Mr Assange," Benn added.

Assange risks being arrested the moment he steps outside the red-brick building after breaching bail terms, keeping both his supporters and police puzzled as to what he might do next.

On Thursday, British police summoned Assange to a London police station, demanding he leave the embassy.

But Assange later told BBC television in a telephone interview: "Our advice is that asylum law both internationally and domestically in the UK takes precedence to extradition law, so the answer is almost certainly not."

UK police demand Assange leave Ecuador embassy

Police said they had formally "served a surrender notice upon a 40-year-old man that requires him to attend a police station at date and time of our choosing."

"He remains in breach of his bail conditions, failing to surrender would be a further breach of conditions and he is liable to arrest," the police statement added.

The statement, in line with British policy, did not name the person but media quoted sources identifying him as Assange.

WikiLeaks' Assange says Ecuador 'quite supportive'

The BBC reported the extradition unit delivered a note to Assange and the Ecuadorean embassy. The embassy declined to comment. 

Assange denies any wrongdoing in Sweden and says he fears that if extradited there he could be sent on to the United States, where he could face criminal charges punishable by death.

Assange enraged Washington in 2010 when his WikiLeaks website published secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

Easily recognisable by his white-yellow hair, and known for his unpredictable behaviour, Assange caused a media storm in Britain with his asylum bid. Ecuador's ambassador has in the meantime flown home to discuss whether to grant him asylum but the decision has yet to be made.

By diplomatic convention, police cannot enter the embassy without authorisation from Ecuador. But even if Quito granted him asylum, he has no way of travelling to Ecuador without passing through London and exposing himself to arrest. 

Msnbc.com's F. Brinley Bruton and Reuters contributed to this report. 

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