The UK told Ecuador in August that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would not be extradited if he left the country's London embassy, Ecuador's top government lawyer says.
In a written response to queries from Ecuador, the UK explained it had not received any extradition request and said Assange's jail time in Britain for violating bail terms by seeking refuge in the embassy would not exceed six months, Inigo Salvador, who represents the Ecuadorean government in court proceedings, told reporters on Thursday.
Salvador said Ecuador passed on the UK's response to Assange's lawyers but noted if Assange stayed in the embassy, Ecuador would put new conditions on his stay.
"Mr Assange had a choice between turning himself in to British authorities with those assurances, or staying in the embassy of Ecuador, but given that the asylum had lasted six years with no signs of immediate resolution we were going to place certain rules," Salvador said.
It was unclear if the UK's assurances were still valid. Assange's legal team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The UK Foreign Office referred to minister Alan Duncan's June statement that Assange would be treated "humanely and properly" if he left the embassy.
Assange took refuge in the embassy in 2012 after British courts ordered his extradition to Sweden to face questioning in a sexual molestation case.
That case has been dropped but supporters have said Assange fears he could be extradited to the United States if he leaves the embassy.
WikiLeaks, which published US diplomatic and military secrets when Assange ran the operation, faces a US grand jury investigation.
The relationship between Assange and Ecuador has grown increasingly tense in the past year. Assange filed a lawsuit in an Ecuadorean court last week claiming the new asylum terms, which require him to pay for medical bills and telephone calls and to clean up after his pet cat, violate his rights.
Ecuador says the rules are consistent with international asylum standards.
Australian Associated Press