Julian Assange was called a “miserable little worm” on Tuesday by a junior British foreign affairs minister who said the WikiLeaks founder should leave the Ecuadorean embassy in London and give himself up to British justice.
Assange has been living inside the embassy since June 2012, when he entered the building to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questioning about allegations of sex crimes, which he has always denied.
“It’s about time that this miserable little worm walked out of the embassy and gave himself up to British justice.”
Assange did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent to an email address frequently used to send his press releases to media.
Assange says the Swedish sex allegations were baseless and the real reason for his legal troubles is the fact that WikiLeaks published U.S. diplomatic and military secrets. He fears that handing himself in would lead to extradition to the United States.
He considers himself to be under arbitrary detention in the Ecuadorean embassy – a description of his situation rejected by the British authorities who say he voluntarily went into the building and could leave anytime if he were prepared to face up to the consequences of his actions.
British police ended their permanent guard on the embassy in October 2015 but said they would maintain “covert tactics” to arrest Assange if he left. At the time, they said 12.6 million pounds ($17.8 million) had been spent on guarding the embassy.