“I hope Mr Assange will not grow old and die in our embassy — but we are defending human rights,” said Patiño.

“I was able to say face to face to him, for the first time, that the government of Ecuador remains firmly committed to protecting his human rights and that we continue to seek cast-iron assurances to avoid any onward extradition to a third state,”

“During the meeting we were able to speak about the increasing threats against the freedom of people to communicate and to know the truth, threats which come from certain states that have put all of humanity under suspicion.”

“We’re not going to smuggle Mr Assange out in the boot of a car or through an underground tunnel or something. The Ecuadorean government isn’t going to go out through the back door, we’re going to come out proud through the front door…We’re going to ensure that he comes out facing his freedom – the freedom of our country. This is what we are hoping for.”

“We feel he should be handed over into safe conduct so that he can leave the UK for elsewhere…Is justice prevailing here? It’s not, is it?” complained Patiño during a press conference.

UK foreign minister William Hague met briefly with Patiño this morning but the Foreign Office reported that they “made no breakthrough on Julian Assange.”

“Ministers agreed that officials should establish a working group to find a diplomatic solution to the issue of Julian Assange, but no substantive progress was made.

“The Foreign Secretary was clear once again that any resolution would need to be within the laws of the United Kingdom.”

Austrlian citizen Assange has been living in the Ecuador embassy, located next door to Harrods in Knightsbridge, for a year this month. He entered the embassy on June 19 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questioning sexual assault allegations. Assange and his supporters believe that he would subsequently be extradited to the United States to face jail over publishing diplomatic cables and US secrets.