Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, will be immediately arrested and extradited to the US, should he decide to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London, the Latin American country's former president said.
Speaking in an interview with EuroNews, Rafael Correa said he expects the embassy staff to evict Assange "very soon."
"I think they haven't done it yet because it would be a worldwide scandal. If they could do it, they would expel him out today. It is a matter of days unless something extraordinary happens, unless the international pressure is so strong that they are cowed. But I doubt it," he said.
Last week, WikiLeaks tweeted, citing high-level sources in the Ecuadorian government, that Assange would be evicted from the embassy within a matter of "hours to days."
However, the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry debunked the information of Assange's impending expulsion as a rumor.
According to Correa, the embassy staff wants to break Assange "emotionally or physically" to make him to leave the premises voluntarily or force him to go to hospital over a health emergency. However, the plan appears to have failed, according to Correa's observations.
"Laws that include the death penalty could be applied to Julian Assange. Given this situation, we decided to grant him asylum, because there were no guarantees of a fair trial, and Julian Assange's life was at risk," he said. "If he now leaves the embassy, the United Kingdom will immediately extradite him to the United States, and there the hawks are thirsty for bestial vengeance and are capable of anything."
In the meantime, Ecuador reminded Assange Tuesday that he has overstayed his welcome. According to Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Jose Valencia, staying in the embassy isn't a viable option for anyone, Global News reports.
"It wouldn't be good for his state of mind, his health [to stay further]," Valencia said.
As relations between the Latin American nation and Assange become increasingly tense, Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno has accused WikiLeaks of spreading allegations that he is corrupt and leaking his family's photos on social media. Moreno accused the website of intercepting phone calls and posting "photos of my bedroom, what I eat, and how my wife and daughters and friends dance."
The website dismissed the allegations, calling them "completely bogus."
Assange faced rape accusations in Sweden when he entered the London-based Ecuadorian embassy, Although those charges have since been dropped, he still faces arrest in the UK for failing to comply with his bail terms, Global News reports.