Julian Assange
WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Reuters

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will ignore a Metropolitan Police request to hand himself in to a police station, it has been confirmed.

Speaking on the steps of the Ecuadorian embassy in London where Assange has been seeking asylum, spokeswoman Susan Benn said he was advised to "decline to comply" and will remain in the building.

Assange, 40, has been holed up inside the embassy for more than a week as he tries to win political asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden. He is wanted there for questioning over rape and assault allegations.

In his statement, read out by Benn, Assange said: "This should not be considered any sign of disrespect. Under both international and domestic UK law asylum assessments take priority over extradition claims."

Assange fears that if he sent to Sweden, he may then be extradited to the US to face charges relating to the mass diplomatic cables leak published on WikiLeaks and could face the death penalty.

WikiLeaks gained notoriety in 2010 for publishing hundreds of thousands of leaked secret diplomatic cables, including highly sensitive US documents relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Benn, a committee member of Assange's defence fund, added: "The issues faced by Mr Assange are serious. His life and liberty and the life and liberty of his organisation and those associated with it are at stake.

"Mr Assange did not feel safe from US extradition in the UK. We are all too aware of the abuses of the US-UK extradition treaty. Although Mr Assange has been trapped in the UK under dangerous circumstances, he has at least had the freedom to apply for political asylum.

"It is in this context that Julian has made the difficult decision to seek refuge inside the Equadorean embassy to ask for asylum. Julian will remain in the embassy under the protection of the Ecuadoran government while evidence for his application is being assembled and processed."

Two women accused Assange of sexually assaulting them in August 2010. He was arrested in Britain in December 2010 and has been fighting extradition ever since.