WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s request for “safe passage” for medical treatment has been denied by the British government, Ecuador’s foreign minister said on Wednesday.
Assange has been holed up in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy for more than three years to avoid extradition to Sweden, where prosecutors want to question him over 2010 rape allegations.
The Australian has not been charged and denies the allegations.
Speaking to reporters in Quito, Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said Assange is suffering pain in his right shoulder and needs an MRI scan to determine the cause.
The UK Foreign Office replied that Assange is free to go to a hospital any time he wants, but that he would face arrest outside the embassy.
“There is no question that the UK authorities would in any way seek to impede Mr. Assange from seeking medical advice or care. We have made this clear to the government of Ecuador,” a spokesperson with the UK office said. “If he leaves for medical treatment it will be a matter for the police.”
Earlier this week, police said they would no longer be guarding Assange around the clock, but would deploy “a number of overt and covert tactics to arrest him.”
Assange has said he fears Sweden would extradite him to the United States, where he could face the death penalty if he is charged and convicted of publishing government secrets through WikiLeaks.
CNN’s Claudia Rebaza and Susannah Cullinane contributed to this report.