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Ecuadoran Leader Calls Wikileaks' Assange 'Hacker' But Maintains Asylum Status

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks on the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London on May 19.

Ecuador's new President Lenin Moreno has called Wikileaks founder Julian Assange a "hacker," but said he could continue to enjoy asylum in Ecuador's London Embassy.

Moreno, who took office this month, has been more critical of Assange than his predecessor, Rafael Correa, who granted Assange asylum when he was fleeing international arrest in 2012.

"Assange is a hacker. That's something we reject and that I in particular personally reject," said Moreno, who warned Assange during the presidential campaign to "not interfere" in Ecuadoran politics.

"But I respect the situation in which he finds himself," Moreno said.

Earlier this month, Swedish prosecutors dropped a rape allegation against Assange and withdrew the European arrest warrant that had prompted his appeal for asylum.

Assange had always maintained his innocence and said his extradition to Sweden would have led to his transfer to the United States, where he could be tried for publishing thousands of confidential military and diplomatic documents.

However, British police have said they still intend to arrest Assange if he leaves the embassy in London, as he violated the terms of his probation in Britain in 2012 when he took refuge in the diplomatic mission.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters