He and his supporters say the charges are part of a plot to get him extradited to the US where, they say, he could face harsh penalties. The US has not made a formal extradition request for Assange, and it would be harder to secure his extradition from Sweden than it would be from the United Kingdom. Ecuador announced it would formally offer Assange asylum last Thursday.
The UK has refused to allow Assange safe passage out of the country, insisting it will arrest him as required under international and its own extradition treaties. Last week, after the UK warned Ecuador that it might withdraw the embassy's protected status to arrest Assange – who had violated the terms of his house arrest agreement when he fled to the embassy – both Ecuador and Assange ratcheted up tension in the standoff, implying the UK was planning on storming the embassy.
Many believe that Ecuador’s harboring of Assange is merely a ruse to boost Correa’s popularity in the run-up to elections next February and to deflect charges that he has severely restricted freedom of expression in Ecuador.