William Hague, the foreign secretary, has made it clear that Britain will not give Assange safe passage to South America. He told a press conference:
"We will not allow Mr Assange safe passage out of the United Kingdom, nor is there any legal basis for us to do so. The United Kingdom does not recognize the principle of diplomatic asylum."
Vaughan Smith, a friend of Assange who put him up for more than a year at his Norfolk residence. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's World at One this afternoon, Smith said:
I'm extremely pleased; I'm absolutely delighted. I'm very pleased indeed.
I think he would like to go to Ecuador; I think that's where he should go. And hopefully we'll be a little bit more tolerant about this. I think we need to consider the fact that the Ecuadoreans are the other people who have really considered the matters they've considered. They've concluded there is a threat to his life. I think we should honor that.
He said that "ideally" Assange should face Swedish questioning, but that the Ecuadoreans had offered the Swedes the opportunity to interview him in the embassy and they had refused.
I think there's a lot of pride involved here... They have interviewed an alleged murderer in Serbia but they choose not to come to London to interview Julian Assange. I think that's very disappointing.
"Britain will carry out its "binding obligation" to extradite Assange to Sweden in spite of Ecuador's decision, a spokesperson for the FCO has said.
We are disappointed by the statement from Ecuador’s Foreign Minister that Ecuador has offered political asylum to Julian Assange.
Under our law, with Mr Assange having exhausted all options of appeal, the British authorities are under a binding obligation to extradite him to Sweden. We shall carry out that obligation. The Ecuadorian Government's decision this afternoon does not change that.
We remain committed to a negotiated solution that allows us to carry out our obligations under the Extradition Act."
Ecuador has granted political asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange:
"We can state that there is a risk that he will be persecuted politically...
We trust the UK will offer the necessary guarantees so that both governments can act adequately and properly respect international rights and the right of asylum.
We also trust the excellent relationship the two countries have will continue."
The questions remain: Will the UK storm the embassy to arrest Assange as threatened? How will Ecuador get Assange out of the country?
Asylum for Assange decision is expected at 1pm UK time today.
Assange supporters wearing "Anonymous" masks holding up "I'm Julian Assange."
Three protesters have been arrested following a brawl with London police.
President of the Ecuadorian National Assembly Fernando Cordero has called a special meeting on the UK’s potential raid of the Ecuadorian Embassy. Although Parliament is in recess for 15 days, he called 124 legislators to attend the meeting. This session will not address the issue of Assange’s bid for asylum, Cordero said.
“I think that this point in time, other nations need to stand up and defend Ecuador's right to make this decision. They haven't even made the decision, they're being threatened. Imagine threatening to storm an embassy to this because they're protecting the rights of a journalist. We have to respect Ecuador's sovereignty, something that the UK might like to take on board. This is a serious decision. ” – Christine Assange, Julian Assange's mother, Brisbane, Australia.
Police have cleared the corner near the embassy that was occupied by Assange supporters. Earlier, Wikileaks activists and the Anonymous hacktivist group called on protesters to “flood” the street in front of the embassy.
Arrest photo from outside the Ecuadorian Embassy.
UK police have begun arresting members of the media, as well as protesters outside of Ecuador's embassy.
An offer by Ecuador to allow Swedish investigators to interview Mr. Assange inside the embassy was rejected.
The law the UK has informed Ecuador it could use in the case is the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987.
It allows the UK to revoke the diplomatic status of an embassy on UK soil, which in this case would potentially allow police to enter the building to arrest Mr Assange for breaching the terms of his bail.
The act was introduced after Yvonne Fletcher was shot outside the Libyan Embassy in 1984.
"Under diplomatic protocol, Mr. Assange was thought to be off limits while in the embassy. But the BBC reported Wednesday that British officials had raised the notion of revoking the diplomatic immunity of the Ecuadorean Embassy, allowing British officials to enter."
2:30am Update: There is now a helicopter above the Ecuadorian embassy visible on livestream. The UK has issued a new statement:
Giving Julian Assange asylum will not change anything, Britain has legal duty to extradite him to Sweden, UK Foreign Office says - @Reuters
Earlier, British authorities warned Ecuador that they could raid its embassy and arrest Wikileaks founder Julian Assange if he is not turned over to police. Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino responded by calling such a move a “flagrant violation” of international law.
"We want to be very clear, we're not a British colony. The colonial times are over," Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said in an angry statement after a meeting with President Rafael Correa.
"The move announced in the official British statement, if it happens, would be interpreted by Ecuador as an unfriendly, hostile and intolerable act, as well as an attack on our sovereignty, which would force us to respond in the strongest diplomatic way," Patino told reporters.
Global protests are already underway at this hour, with protesters already outside the Ecuadorian embassy to support Julian Assange. There are currently three police vans outside the embassy and it is not clear at the moment if police have entered the building seeking to arrest Assange, who has been given asylum there pending the government of Ecuador's decision on granting political asylum to him in that nation.
More as details develop...