Energy on demand unit to help power crisis

A unique device that can produce electricity and hot water as well as heat or cool your home is being touted by Australian inventors as a revolutionary way to help solve the nation’s energy crisis.

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The “energy on demand” device works by producing heat to drive turbines that generate electricity for homes, hospitals, shops, office buildings and factories.

The heat loss from the hot air that’s produced can also be diverted into a building’s heating and cooling systems.

Sydney-based firm Infratech Industries and the University of Newcastle have developed the device, which can be used in conjunction with electricity from the national grid or independent of it.

They say their system is the first of its kind in the world, and is free from the predictability issues that can sometimes plague renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

“It’s a step-change in technology from what is currently available,” Infratech founder and chief executive Dr Rajesh Nellore said.

“We are not only talking about power generation but other needs the consumer has and reducing overall dependency on the national electricity grid.”

The device has been dubbed CLES, short for chemical looping energy on demand system.

Speaking ahead of its launch at the University of Newcastle on Thursday, Dr Nellore said the current version measures two metres square and can produce enough power for 30-40 homes.

It generates electricity from a “chemical looping process” involving a naturally occurring particle mixture.

When those particles combine with oxygen they produce heat that runs turbines inside the device to create electricity.

Heat that’s lost during the process is then captured to produce hot water and supply heating and cooling systems.

Oxygen and hydrogen are other byproducts, which Dr Nellore says can be sold off for use by hospitals, steel mills and fish farms.

“So it’s a polygeneration unit that has multiple benefits,” he said.

Dr Nellore said the unit can be used as an energy storage device that can be charged like a battery using electricity from the national grid.

Households could use electricity generated and stored by the device during off-peak periods for energy demand, potentially lowering their power bills.

Rhino horn a legal trade in South Africa

South Africa’s top court has dismissed an appeal by the Department of Environmental Affairs to keep a moratorium on the domestic trade in rhino horn.

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Pelham Jones, chairman of South Africa’s Private Rhino Owners Association (PROA) which was one of the respondents in the case, said it means the sale of rhino horns was legal in South Africa.

“We welcome the Constitutional Court ruling, we believe it is a right we have been entitled to,” he said.

A global ban in the horn trade, which is regulated by a UN convention, remains in place.

In May, South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed the government’s bid to uphold a ban on the domestic trade in rhino horn put in place in 2009. The Constitutional Court was its last judicial option.

A spokeswoman for South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs said it would issue a statement shortly.

The court action was initiated by private rhino ranchers and other associations, who say they need to sell horn to afford spiralling security costs.

According to the latest figures from PROA, over 6,500 rhinos are in private hands in South Africa, over a third of the national population.

Rhino horn can be harvested as it grows back and it can be removed from a tranquilised animal.

Conservationists have expressed concerns that domestic buyers could also illicitly supply markets in Vietnam and China, where demand for rhino horn – coveted as an ingredient in traditional medicine – has triggered a wave of poaching.

But Jones said PROA was consulting with security firms to ensure “blood horns” did not enter the market.

“We are in an advanced stage of setting up a domestic trade desk and are consulting with economists to determine market prices.

Potential domestic buyers could include those who see” rhino horn as a store of wealth that could appreciate in value and those who want it as a decoration.

Wheelchair martial arts master knows no limits

Three years ago Eduardo Salazar began life in a wheelchair, but he’s not willing to be pushed around.

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A fourth dan Hapkido black belt, the current world champion and devotee of martial arts for over 30 years, Salazar’s life changed in an instant while riding his motorbike in his homeland of Colombia when he was rammed by a car.

The accident broke his spine but never his spirit, even when doctors delivered the news that he would never walk again.

“The doctors say you can’t move again, you spend all the time in bed, you have lost everything. But I say no,” he said.

Eduardo Salazar’s motorbike accident in 2014.Supplied

Refusing to dwell on what he couldn’t do, Salazar put his focus into what he could do.

Several months in rehab, the 40-year-old worked his upper body and learned how to use his wheelchair in martial arts practice.

Just two years later, he claimed the Hapkido Open World Champion title in Brazil over his able bodied competitors.

“When I become world champion I say, ‘yes, now I am a good example for people and I can help’.”

Hapkido World Champion 2016Supplied

So he moved to Australia in 2015 to establish his own Hapkido dojo, and began passing on his life’s work.

Salazar runs classes two days a week in Melbourne’s western suburbs for students of all ages.

However he said the chair can cause some confusion for new students.

“Sometimes people arrive here and ask about class,” he said. “And when the people look at my belt, they ask, ‘you are the master?’ and I say ‘yes, I am the master’.”

He also holds specialist clinics for those like himself in a wheelchair.

Eduardo Salazar runs a weapons session.SBS

Salazar said as Hapkido relies on technique, not strength, it’s the perfect form of self defence for people with a disability.

“When you have strong mind you can achieve everything,” he said. “With practice you gain an understanding, and it’s in this moment you realise that you can achieve everything.”

His next goal is to establish an Australian Hapkido federation, and continue to inspire the next generation of Hapkido masters, like 10-year-old student Eric Falconer.

“It’s more about up here (in your head), you have to concentrate. You can do whatever you want and achieve your goal if you work at it,” Eric said.

Eduardo Salazar demonstrates self defence.SBS

While for yellow-belt Michelle Paschkow, the practice has been life changing.

Recruited to the dojo after meeting Salazar on a train, she said she never thought she was strong enough to practice martial arts.

“Practices like Hapkido you don’t have to be very strong it’s all about technique so it’s suitable for everyone. It’s changed everything for me,” she said.

Hapkido black belt master Eduardo Salazar redefines disability in @SBSNews feature tomorrow night 6:30pm #hapkido #martialarts #wheelchair pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/Vmt1z7qgpV

— Abby Dinham (@abbydinham) April 3, 2017

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Teens escaping the mafia through therapy

He faced jail for smuggling Kalashnikovs, but the teenage heir to a powerful mafia clan in Italy was instead removed from his family and given a chance to break free of the criminal underworld.

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Help came from psychologist Enrico Interdonato, 33, who volunteers with a project that tries to free youngsters from the notoriously ruthless ‘Ndrangheta in Calabria by placing them in care in secret locations across Italy.

The program called “Liberi di Scegliere” (Freedom to Choose), aims to show teens they can forge a life outside the criminal underworld without feeling they have betrayed those they love.

“They’re raised as princes destined to inherit a dynasty, the embodiment of their town’s criminal history,” Interdonato told AFP.

“Their fathers are almost always in prison or dead, their cousins or brothers are in jail. In the closed societies of small Calabrian towns everyone knows them and they feel it’s their duty to live up to the family name,” he said.

“At risk” minors are removed from their families by the juvenile court in the southern city of Reggio Calabria and given a chance to finish their education. Those who want it also get help finding work once they turn 18.

The first challenge Interdonato faces is convincing the youngsters not to see it as a punishment but an opportunity to find themselves in a place where their family names  renowned at home  hold no power over them.

They also have to be convinced of the ills of a lifestyle which seduces many in a region with crippling unemployment.

“Being heir to a mafia clan means obligations but it also means privileges, having access to significant economic and social power,” he said.

‘Traumatised’ 

They may wear designer clothes and command the fear or respect of locals, but “they are still the same as other teenagers in one respect: the changes in their bodies and brains are still underway”.

Though each case is different, all at first are “emotionally rigid” and traumatised after having seen relatives killed or taken away in the middle of the night in police raids.

Once a relationship is forged, Interdonato takes them along to meetings organised by the Addiopizzo association, a grassroots movement of victims of mafia extortion who have joined forces to denounce their tormentors.

“Just as police infiltrate the mafia, we infiltrate the anti-mafia!” he quips.

“These are people traditionally considered the enemy of the mafia, so the kids get a chance to see the human face of their ‘enemy’, and see what their world does to them.”

The encounters can be “very emotional”, he says. “In one case a victim living under police escort ended up befriending one of the lads and offered him a job.”

Interdonato, who sees the minors once or twice a week, says the aim is not to get the youngsters to turn on their families though the mothers of some children sent away do just that, becoming police informants.

“No one wants the blood ties to be cut or for youngsters to hate their fathers. We say: ‘You must love your father, but you must choose your future for yourself.'”

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NSW keep open mind on future Origin camps

This may not be the final NSW Origin camp outside Sydney.

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New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) chief executive Dave Trodden has declared all options for the future of NSW State of Origin camps are on the table next year, including a return to Kingscliff.

It was believed the expected completion of a centre of excellence in Homebush this year would spell the end of the traditional 10-day Origin preparation away from Sydney.

However, Trodden admitted the Blues could be on the road again with construction on their new $20 million base, adjacent to ANZ Stadium, behind schedule.

Options for 2018 include the possibility of returning to their current camp in Kingscliff, where they moved this year after spending recent campaigns in Coffs Harbour.

It was initially expected NSWRL would move into its new home, complete with playing field, gymnasium, administration block and hydrotherapy room, by the end of 2017.

That timeline has seemingly been pushed back another 12 months.

A decision isn’t expected to be made about NSW’s plans for 2018 until later this year.

“Our plans for next year aren’t crystallised depending on a number of different things, one is the completion of our centre of excellence at Sydney Olympic Park,” Trodden told AAP.

“We’ll have a discussion about the different approaches we take to different locations, where we’re going to play next year.

“All those things will happen over the course of the next few months.”

Trodden opted not to comment on whether the Blues would return to The Star casino, which attracted some criticism from star Andrew Fifita after their game two build-up.

Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne will each host an Origin game in 2018, with game two slated to be played on a stand-alone weekend with a shorter build-up.

Brit pack progress makes no difference to Murray focus

Murray is happy to have some company for a change but believes their progression has made little difference to his own performance as he prepares to face Italy’s Fabio Fognini in a third round encounter on Friday.

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“It’s a good thing when there are more Brits around,” Murray is quoted as saying by The Times.

“That’s a really positive thing, but it doesn’t change how I go into the matches. I’m used to having played deep into the second weeks at slams and there not being any Brits there.

“Whether I’ll feel differently in the middle of the second week and there are a few Brits left, and it’s maybe a little bit calmer, that’s possible. I’ve never been in that position before.”

This is the first time Bedene and Konta have reached the third round but Watson will be hoping for better luck after losing to Agnieszka Radwanska in 2012 and Serena Williams in 2015 on her previous attempts to reach the fourth round.

In-form Watson faces former world number one Victoria Azarenka and the Belarusian expects a tough test from her 25-year-old opponent, who reached the semi-finals at the Aegon International last week.

“I think she’s a great player,” Azarenka, who is playing in just her second event since giving birth to her first child in December, said.

“She definitely is going to be a crowd favourite. She played really well last week in Eastbourne. It looks like she feels really comfortable coming into this match.”

All four Brits will play on Friday with sixth-seeded Konta facing Greece’s Maria Sakkari and Bedene set to play 16th-seed Gilles Muller.

(Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru)

Tillerson to visit Kuwait on Qatar crisis

The US Secretary of State will travel to Kuwait in a bid to resolve the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and four Arab states led by Saudi Arabia, his department says.

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Rex Tillerson will meet on July 10 with senior Kuwaiti officials who have been trying to mediate between the Gulf countries embroiled in the dispute.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain announced on Wednesday they would not resume diplomatic ties or lift the trade ban against Qatar, whom they accuse of having links to terror groups.

The four countries justified their stance by citing Qatar’s refusal of their demands to resume relations.

Those demands included shutting down the Al-Jazeera news channel, scaling down diplomatic relations with Iran and closing a Turkish military base in the emirate.

They said Doha’s refusal of their demands is proof of its links to terror groups and that they will enact new measures against it.

The Qatari government sabotaged diplomatic efforts to solve the rift, the four states said, and its refusal affirmed its continuing sabotage of the region’s stability and security.

The measures taken by the four states were aimed at the Qatari government but not its people, they said.

Tillerson has been in contact with the Saudi-led bloc and Qatar, where the US has its largest military base in the region, and other regional players over the last month.

He has urged the five countries to resolve their dispute, warning that it hampers operations against the Islamic State terror group.

In late June, the State Department questioned whether the boycott of Qatar was about its alleged links to terrorism or “long-simmering grievances” among the Gulf countries.

Tillerson is currently accompanying US President Donald Trump, who has sided with the Saudi-led bloc and blamed Qatar for the crisis, in Hamburg, Germany to attend the G20 summit that begins on Friday.

After the summit, the US Secretary of State will travel to Kiev and then to Istanbul before his trip to Kuwait.

NRL cap saga won’t affect Manly players

High-flying Manly’s mid-season NRL form won’t be derailed by the club’s alleged salary cap scandal, insists coach Trent Barrett.

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Barrett fronted the media on Friday morning and faced a deluge of questions surrounding the latest saga, with the NRL confirming this week they would investigate the club after reports of an alleged breach.

However, Barrett said he has done his best to shield the players from the reports, ahead of Saturday night’s clash with Penrith at Pepper Stadium.

“The players are really good with it,” Barrett said.

“They know what their job is. They can’t control it, I can’t control it.

“The best thing I can do is shield them from it and focus them on what we’ve got to do tomorrow night.”

The Sea Eagles have become well accustomed to off-field scandals dominating headlines.

And in turn, they have thrived off their famous siege mentality.

Most recently, they forced to endure allegations of match-fixing last season, which were only reportedly cleared this week.

And Barrett said the players had openly joked about the latest salary cap allegations across the league, where Manly have been the only club named, before continuing with preparations for Saturday’s match.

“The players had a bit of a chuckle. They wanted to know who was getting (the money),” Barrett said.

“We’ve been through similar things last year and the group handled it well and nothing came of that either.

“It seems funny that everyone turns up here all the time.”

Saturday’s match poses a significant point in the Sea Eagles’ season.

A win will likely take them into the top two for the first time since 2014, while a loss could potentially drop them out of the top-four heading into the final third of the season.

Halfback Daly Cherry-Evans will be desperate to continue his career-best form, after being overlooked by Queensland’s State of Origin selectors.

Manly will be without Jake Trbojevic through Origin duty, while injuries to Curtis Sironen and Lewis Brown have left a hole on their right edge.

Meanwhile, Penrith coach Anthony Griffin said his side are on high alert for a fired up Sea Eagles, having endured a similar drama as coach of Brisbane in 2014.

“Normally when something like that happens it steels you,” Griffin said.

“I was at a similar situation at Brisbane once when there were rumours and innuendo against us.

“I would rather it didn’t happen to be honest.”

STATS THAT MATTER:

* Penrith have won their past four matches against Manly.

* Manly have not scored more than 12 points in their past four matches at Pepper Stadium.

* Manly are ranked second for average points this year and make the least errors per game.

Botanix raises $7.4m to develop products

Biotech Botanix has raised $7.

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4 million in a placement of new shares to help it fund the further development of its dermatology products that contain a synthetic form of the cannabis compound, cannabidiol.

Botanix on Wednesday said the placement of about 134 million new shares, at 5.5 cents each, to institutional and sophisticated investors was significantly oversubscribed.

“The overwhelming support for the placement is a clear vote of confidence from the institutional and sophisticated investment community in relation to Botanix’s business strategy,” Botanix executive director Matthew Callahan said.

Botanix will use the proceeds for the further clinical development of its dermatology products and to commercialise its Permetrex drug delivery system.

The company is set to begin a Phase I safety and dosing trial of acne treatment BTX 1503 in the coming weeks.

It also will fast-track the clinical development of BT 1204, a treatment for atopic dermatitis.

Botanix said it would pursue opportunities to generate revenue in the near term to further enhance its funding position.

To that end, the company will start a human clinical pilot study on an over-the-counter acne cleanser, BTX 1701, which will not require extensive clinical studies or approval from the US Federal Drug Administration.

Botanix also is talking to potential pharmaceutical partners on the licensing of the Permetrex drug delivery system for use in the treatment of dermatological diseases.

The global market for acne prescription products, driven mainly by the US market, is expected to grow to more than $US4.5 billion ($A5.9 billion) by 2018.

The larger dermatology market including treatments for psoriasis, eczema and other skin diseases is worth around $US20 billion a year.

Cannabidiol is a chemical that can be naturally extracted in raw form from the cannabis plant.

Botanix has developed a synthetic cannabidiol, which the company says has advantages over the natural form because it has consistent purity, greater scalability and more straightforward prospects of gaining regulatory approval.

Furthermore, Botanix says, the Permetrex drug delivery system can deliver cannabidiol efficiently into the skin whereas medicinal cannabidiol is generally taken orally, which is less effective.

Botanix shares were 0.1 cents, or 1.47 per cent, lower at 6.7 cents at 1135 AEST.

Stosur beats Jankovic in WTA Charleston

Samantha Stosur has started her claycourt season with a straight-sets win over former world No.

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1 Jelena Jankovic at the WTA tournament in Charleston.

No.6 seed Stosur won the second-round match 6-1 6-3 in an hour and 13 minutes.

“I’ve had eight hours of practice on clay courts, so all in all, I’m pleased with how I started the match and got through it in straight sets,” Stosur told the WTA website.

“A lot of it comes down to the serve; if I can hit my spots and be accurate, it’ll be hard for my opponent.

Stosur, who won the Charlestown event in 2010, will play Irina-Camelia Begu or Kristina Kucova in the third round.

Stosur’s fellow Australian Anastasia Rodionova moved in to the second round with an impressive 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 win over China’s Ying-Ying Duan.

The win is the 34-year-old Rodionova’s first main draw singles victory since October 2015 when she advanced to the second round of the Hong Kong Open.

Once she took the first set in a tie-break, Rodionova steamrolled her way through the second, losing only four points on serve as she rattled Duan.

She will now play either Italian veteran Sara Errani or American qualifier Grace Min in the second round.

Australian No.9 seed Daria Gavriolva begins her campaign with a second round match against American Alison Riske on Wednesday (Thursday AEST).

Seeded players to progress to the second round were , the 11th seed, and China’s .

Other first-round winners were Australian Open semi-finalist Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Lucie Safarova, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Shelby Rogers, Mona Barthel, Fanny Stollar, Shuai Zhang, Annika Beck, Magda Linette and Daria Kasatkina, on a busy day of action after rain curtailed play on Monday (Tuesday AEST).

American 14th seed Lauren Davis was beaten 7-5 6-4 by world number 91 Maria Sakkari of Greece while 12th seed Yulia Putintseva was beaten 4-6 6-2 6-4 by Poland’s Magda Linette.

Slater unsure whether Cronk will play on

Billy Slater says he wouldn’t be surprised if his Melbourne teammate Cooper Cronk retired at the end of the season rather than play for another NRL club.

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Slater says Cronk, who announced his plans on Tuesday to move to Sydney for personal reasons, could easily play for another few years but isn’t convinced the Test halfback will.

“He’s fit, he’s mentally there and he could go on for a number of years if he wanted to but it wouldn’t surprise me if he did retire because Cooper can do things a little bit different at times,” Slater said.

The veteran fullback said he wasn’t shocked by Cronk’s decision to leave as he could see the writing on the wall once Cronk got engaged to his Sydney-based television presenter partner Tara Rushton.

“I knew it was going to be hard for him to live away from her for two years,” Slater said.

“He tried to make it work but unfortunately for us, he’s moving to Sydney.”

Slater said the Storm didn’t try to convince Cronk to stay, believing it would be selfish to do so.

“He’s doing a selfless thing for his partner and their future and that’s not for us to interfere with,” Slater said.

“He’s put a lot into this club and he’s certainly going to leave a legacy at this club and we’re just focusing on the remainder of this year with him.”

Cronk doesn’t plan to make a decision on his playing future for at least a few months but if he chose suit up in Sydney Slater admitted it would be “weird”.

He said he’d never played against Cronk, with their on-field partnership stretching back 14 seasons and their friendship even longer to teenage days in Brisbane.

Slater, also 33, is off-contract at the end of the season but after only just returning from two rounds of shoulder surgery which sidelined him for most of the last two years, said he wasn’t thinking about his own future just yet.

“This is a totally separate issue to me and it won’t determine what I’m doing next year,” Slater said.

“I’ve got three games under my belt and hopefully I’ll get many more and make that decision later in the year.”

More than half a million sign Melania Trump petition

The Slovenian-born former model and mother of one has continued to live at her Manhattan penthouse apartment more than two months after husband Donald Trump was sworn in as 45th president of the United States.

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The first lady has said that she and 11-year-old son Barron will move to Washington after the current school year ends in the summer.

New York expects to spend an average of $127,000-$146,000 a day for the police and $4.5 million annually for the fire department to protect the first lady and her child while they live in Trump Tower, city police chief James O’Neill wrote February in a letter to local members of Congress.

WATCH: The wealthiest White House in history

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Police spent $24 million on protecting the family from election day on November 8 2016 to inauguration day on January 20, on the eve of which the New York real estate tycoon moved to Washington.

“The US taxpayer is paying an exorbitant amount of money to protect the First Lady in Trump Tower,” said the petition set up on Change.Org.

“As to help relieve the national debt, this expense yields no positive results for the nation and should be cut from being funded,” it added.

(AAP)AP

The petition, which was started two weeks ago, has already been signed by more than 514,200 people. It has a goal of reaching one million supporters.

The petition is to be delivered to Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, both prominent Trump opponents on the left of US politics.

The president has not returned to New York since moving to Washington but has spent multiple weekends at his estate in Palm Beach, Florida to the frustration of some residents there.

Signatories to the petition have left less than savory words for the first family’s living arrangements.

“Melania not living in the White House is not only expensive but an insult to Americans,” wrote Gary Strauss from Madison, Wisconsin on Tuesday.

“This exposes one of the many hypocrisies of this administration,” added Roderick Grant of Huntington Station, New York.

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Ecuador’s new president warns Assange not to ‘meddle’

Moreno’s election victory Sunday was a relief for Assange, who has been holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy since 2012 to avoid arrest.

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The socialist president-elect’s conservative rival, Guillermo Lasso, had vowed to kick Assange out of the embassy.

But Moreno had some stern words after Assange took to Twitter to celebrate Lasso’s loss.

“Mr Julian Assange must respect the condition (of asylum) he is in and not meddle in Ecuadoran politics,” he said at a news conference.

As results showed Lasso losing on election night, Assange had exuberantly turned around the right-wing candidate’s threat to expel him within 30 days.

“I cordially invite Lasso to leave Ecuador within 30 days (with or without his tax haven millions),” he tweeted — a reference to allegations the ex-banker has money stashed in offshore accounts.

I cordially invite Lasso to leave Ecuador within 30 days (with or without his tax haven millions) #AssangeSILassoNO 长沙桑拿,长沙SPA,/mU3HwPfP44

— Julian Assange (@JulianAssange) April 3, 2017

Assange fled to the embassy to avoid arrest and extradition to Sweden, where he faces a rape allegation.

The 45-year-old Australian, who denies the allegation, says he fears Sweden would send him to the United States to face trial for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic documents in 2010.

Outgoing President Rafael Correa, a fiery critic of the US, granted Assange asylum, and Moreno has vowed to uphold it.

Assange’s case has returned to the spotlight since WikiLeaks was accused of meddling in the US election last year by releasing a damaging trove of hacked emails from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign and her Democratic party.

That created an awkward situation for the Ecuadoran government, which responded by temporarily restricting his internet access.