- Julian Assange says an end to his troubles could come within 12 months
- He predicts a diplomatic solution or abandonment of the case by the Swedes
- Assange claims seven people linked to WikiLeaks could face charges in U.S.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange -- holed up inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London -- predicts that his situation will be resolved within a year.
Assange is hiding in the embassy to avoid being arrested and extradited to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning for alleged sex crimes. Assange claims that the accusations are part of a plot to later extradite him to the United States to face charges for publishing thousands of classified cables.
Either diplomacy or abandonment of the case by the Swedes will bring an end to his ordeal in six to 12 months, Assange said in a lengthy interview with Ecuador's Gamma TV.
Ecuador has granted diplomatic asylum to Assange, but the United Kingdom does not recognize it and vows to carry through with his arrest.
In the meantime, Assange says he will keep fighting and WikiLeaks will continue to operate.
The website will soon publish more than 2 million Syrian e-mails that it says will shed light on the civil war there.
Assange reiterated his claims that he is being persecuted by the United States and its allies and that he would not get a fair trial if he ended up in the United States. The argument persuaded Ecuador to grant him asylum.
Swedish authorities have denied that they would place Assange in any situation where his rights would not be protected, and have insisted he is wanted in connection with criminal questions, not political ones.
"Political persecution of me and my organization exists, and that is enough (for asylum), but if we look at the broader context, Ecuador is correct in showing its values in this case," Assange told Gamma TV, which aired the interview Thursday night. "Not just by granting asylum to me, but also for granting asylum to any person who deserves it."
Critics say that Assange and Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa are using each other -- Assange using Ecuador to avoid criminal questioning, and Ecuador using Assange to make a political statement.
"I don't feel we've been used at all," Assange said.
The WikiLeaks founder said he has a real fear of being tried in the United States.
At least seven people linked to his organization could be tried in the United States for information leaks, he said.
The UK Foreign Office says Britain has a legal obligation to hand him over to Sweden, after Assange's legal efforts to avoid extradition were rejected by British courts up to the Supreme Court.
The dispute gathered heat when the Foreign Office, in a letter to Ecuadorian officials, cited a little-known law that could temporarily suspend the embassy's diplomatic protection and allow authorities to enter and arrest Assange. Ecuador's president has dismissed any steps in that direction as "suicidal."
When the letter was revealed, the number of police around the Ecuadorian Embassy in London swelled from two to 50, Assange said.
He once again denied that he had committed any crimes in Sweden, though he added that once the accusations are in the media, they are hard to refute.
"When faced with accusations like this, you cannot respond," he told Gamma TV. "It is like fighting with a pig. You get covered in mud."