France rejected fugitive Julian Assange’s request for “protection” after the WikiLeaks founder made an asylum plea in a newspaper open letter to escape “political persecutions”. “My life is in danger Mr President, and my physical and psychological integrity isthreatened,” Assange wrote in the letter published by Le Monde newspaper. “France is the only country that can offer me the necessary protection againstthe political persecutions I face.” Assange is holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden, where prosecutors want to question him about allegations made in 2010 that he raped one woman and sexually molested another. Assange has denied the alleged sex crimes. But President Hollande’s administration replied a swift “no” to the plea. “France has received the letter from Mr. Assange,” the government said in a statement. “A closer examination shows that in light of the legal context and the material situation of Mr. Assange, France cannot act on its request. Mr. Assange is not in a situation of immediate danger. He is also under a European arrest warrant.” WikiLeaks later tweeted that Assange “did not submit an asylum application to France,” and that it was merely an “open letter” to Le Monde, President Hollande, and the public. Le Monde also clarifed that Assange was careful to avoid formally requesting France for asylum in his letter because it is a long and legally complex process. Instead, Le Monde suggests Assange is requesting diplomatic support.
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