Ecuador has denied reports that President Lenin Moreno has ordered Julian Assange to be kicked out of the country's London embassy, where the WikiLeaks founder claimed asylum six years ago.
The government issued a statement saying "that the president of the republic, Lenin Moreno, has at no time ordered the departure of Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London."
The statement comes after Moreno reportedly told journalists in Madrid that Ecuador was seeking guarantees that whatever Assnge's eventual fate, the Australian would not face the death penalty.
Moreno, who came to power last year, confirmed negotiations with Britain took place earlier this month, and described Assange as an "inherited problem."
"We are going to protect him as far as his life is concerned, but it's not within international norms, nor our wishes, nor Mr Assange's wishes, that he remain a refugee all his life," Moreno said.
The Australian national has resided in Ecuador's London embassy since 2012, after he breached bail in relation to sexual assault allegations he faced in Sweden. He cannot be arrested inside the embassy.
Sweden has since dropped their case against him, but Assange says he fears extradition to the United States for questioning over WikiLeaks activities if he leaves the building.
Australian Associated Press