After being holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for nearly two years, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has announced that he will leave the place "soon", although he did not say when. He made the announcement during a press conference where he also clarified that his departure was "perhaps not for the reasons the Murdoch press are saying at the moment".
There were reports that the Australian national was planning to surrender due to his ailing health. He is believed to be suffering from high blood pressure, a chronic lung complaint, bad eyesight, and a vitamin D deficiency due to a lack of sunlight. The Ecuadorian embassy had also sought the British government's permission to take him to a hospital without being arrested, but the request was denied.
Assange is wanted for questioning by Swedish police for allegations that he raped one woman and molested another (both WikiLeaks volunteers) during a visit to Stockholm in 2010. He denies the allegations and refuses to go to Sweden over fears that he will be extradited to the US where he has been under investigation for WikiLeaks' release of secret US government documents.
He sought political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 shortly after the UK's Supreme Court dismissed his efforts to block his extradition. Since then, British police have maintained a constant vigil at the embassy, ready to arrest him as he steps out.
The news come nearly a month after a Swedish court upheld an arrest warrant against Assange for the alleged sexual assault.