WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange today refused to comply with a police request to surrender himself to officers, saying he will remain inside the Embassy of Ecuador while his application for political asylum is processed.
The 40-year-old has been inside the Embassy in London since last week seeking political asylum as part of his bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning about alleged sex offences.
He was served with a letter from the Metropolitan Police requesting that he surrender himself to Belgravia police station at 11.30 this morning.
In a statement read out on his behalf, Mr Assange said he had been advised that he should decline to comply with the police request, adding: "This should not be considered any sign of disrespect. Under both international and domestic UK law asylum assessments take priority over extradition claims."
Assange is under diplomatic protection in the embassy and cannot be arrested by police unless he steps outside the building in Knightsbridge.
Assange, a computer expert who is on £200,000 bail, faces accusations of raping a woman and sexually molesting and coercing another in Stockholm in August 2010 while on a visit to give a lecture.
The Australian says the sex was consensual and the allegations against him are politically motivated.
The WikiLeaks website has published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables that embarrassed several governments and international businesses.
Last month the Supreme Court upheld a High Court ruling that Assange's extradition was legal. Last week the same court refused an attempt by him to reopen his appeal against extradition, saying it was "without merit".
Ecuador is currently considering Assange's application for asylum in the South American country.
A statement read outside the embassy by Susan Benn from the Julian Assange Defence Fund said: "I have spoken to Julian today and he is in good spirits. He is grateful for the support shown to him by the people of Ecuador and so many others from around the world.
"Yesterday Mr Assange was served with a letter from the Metropolitan Police Service requesting that he surrender himself to Belgravia police station at 11.30 this morning.
"Mr Assange has been advised that he should decline to comply with the police request. This should not be considered any sign of disrespect. Under both international and domestic UK law asylum assessments take priority over extradition claims.
"The issues faced by Mr Assange are serious. His life and liberty and the life and liberty of his organisation and those associated with it are at stake.
"The US Government has instigated a grand jury against Julian Assange and other 'founders or managers' of WikiLeaks. Australian diplomats have described this investigation as being of 'unprecedented scale and nature'.
"There is irrefutable evidence in the public record of subpoenas being issued and witnesses being compelled to testify against Mr Assange. WikiLeaks, the ACLU, the Centre for Constitutional Rights and other groups have been fighting these subpoenas and other issues arising from the investigation in multiple US courts. US officials have said in open court that the FBI file about the investigation has now reached 42,135 pages.
"The US department of justice admitted yesterday that its investigation into WikiLeaks proceeds. It is only a matter of time before US authorities begin extradition proceedings against Julian and other leading members of Wikileaks on various charges including conspiracy to commit espionage.
"There are credible reports that a sealed indictment has already been made against Mr Assange. Under US law a sealed indictment can only be made public once Mr Assange is in custody. For a US official to otherwise acknowledge the existence of a sealed indictment is a criminal offence.
"It should be made clear what would happen if Julian was extradited to the USA. The United Nations special rapporteur for torture, Juan Mendez has formally found that the United States has subjected Julian Assange's alleged source in this matter, the young soldier Bradley Manning, to conditions amounting to torture. The UN found that the United States subjected Bradley Manning to "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment". Mr Manning has been charged by the US government with the capital offence of 'aiding the enemy' in relation to his alleged interaction with Mr Assange.
"Bradley Manning has been detained without trial for two years and was placed into solitary confinement for nine months in his cell for 23 hours a day, stripped naked and woken every five minutes. His lawyer and support team say these harsh measures were to coerce him into implicating Julian Assange.
"So it is clear that there is a legal process in place which will result in taking Julian to the US, which if allowed to succeed would violate his basic rights.
"It is accepted by the UK Supreme Court that Julian Assange has not been charged with any criminal offence in Sweden. It is also accepted that he was told by Swedish authorities that he was free to leave Sweden. And it is also accepted that he has continuously offered to be interviewed by the Swedish authorities here in the UK, should they wish to do so.
Although it is normal procedure, Swedish authorities have refused, without reason, to make the three hour trip to London and to interview Julian causing him to be trapped in the UK under virtual house arrest for 561 days and an additional 10 days in solitary confinement - all without charge. Instead they have issued an Interpol red notice and extradition requests.
"Julian and his legal team have previously sought assurances from both the UK government and the Swedish government that they will guarantee safe passage after the completion of legal interviews with Mr Assange and both have previously refused, although we are hopeful they will look at the matter again. The Swedish executive publicly announced on June 14 that it would detain Mr Assange in prison without charge.
"Once in Sweden under such grave restrictions it would be impossible for Mr Assange to exercise his asylum rights.
"Mr Assange did not feel safe from US extradition in the UK. We are all too aware of the abuses of the US-UK extradition treaty. Although Mr Assange has been trapped in the UK, under dangerous circumstances, he at least has had the freedom to apply for political asylum.
"It is in this context that Julian has made the difficult decision to seek refuge inside the Ecuadorian Embassy to ask for asylum.
"Julian will remain in the Embassy under the protection of the Ecuadorian government while evidence for his application is being assembled and processed."