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Assange's 11th-hour decision to seek refuge in the embassy was more reminiscent of Cold War-era episodes seen in authoritarian countries than of the British legal process.
Swedish prosecutors want to question Assange about allegations of sexual assault made by two women, which he denies. The justice ministry in Stockholm said on Wednesday it expected Britain to extradite Assange, but authorities in London said he was beyond the police's reach in the Ecuadorean embassy.
Ecuador said Assange had accused his native Australia of abandoning him and expressed fears that if sent to Sweden he would be extradited onwards to the United States where he believes he could face criminal charges punishable by death.
Assange's website, WikiLeaks, angered Washington in 2010 by publishing secret U.S. diplomatic cables.
"I genuinely believe, and I know him well, that he fears for his life," said Vaughan Smith, founder of a now defunct TV news agency, who hosted Assange at his country mansion for 13 months after the Australian was freed on bail in December 2010.
"He fears that if he goes to Sweden he'll be sent to America and you only have to look at the treatment of Bradley Manning by the Americans to fell that he's right to be fearful," Smith told the BBC.
Manning, the U.S. intelligence analyst accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of government files to Wikileaks, faces a court-martial in September at which he could be jailed for life.