Wikileaks’ Assange Granted Political Asylum In Ecuador
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Assange has been in hiding in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for two months as he awaited this decision.
“The government of Ecuador, faithful to its tradition of protecting those who seek refuge in its territory or in its diplomatic missions, has decided to grant diplomatic asylum to Julian Assange,” said Ricardo Patiño, Ecuador’s foreign minister in a news conference in the Ecuadorean capital.
“There are indications to presume that there could be political persecution,” said Patiño, suggesting that Assange would not get a fair trial in America.
With this announcement, Assange will now have protection from the Ecuadorean government, though only on Ecuadorean territory. If Assange were to travel to Ecuador, he could be stopped and arrested by British police.
During a press conference in London on Thursday, the British foreign secretary, William Hague, said their government had a responsibility to capture Assange and extradite him to Sweden. Mr. Patiño said he hopes the British government will allow Assange to make his trip south to Ecuador without any hassle.
Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden over 2 accusations of sexual assault.
The US Government is also looking to question Assange in an investigation over the disclosure of hundreds of thousands of classified US embassy cables to Wikileaks.
“It was not Britain or my home country, Australia, that stood up to protect me from persecution, but a courageous, independent Latin American nation,” said Assange, as he watched the announcement in the London embassy, according to BBC News.
“While today is a historic victory, our struggles have just begun. The unprecedented US investigation against Wikileaks must be stopped.”
While Assange has been kept safe at the Embassy, the UK Foreign Office has threatened to revoke any diplomatic status of an embassy on UK soil in order to arrest Assange.
Mr. Hague called Ecuador’s decision a “matter of regret,” and warned this new move “does not change the fundamentals” of the case, according to the BBC.
“We will not allow Mr Assange safe passage out of the United Kingdom, nor is there any legal basis for us to do so.”
“We are talking about an Act of Parliament in this country which stresses that it must be used in full conformity with international law.”
Though Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden, he claims the accusations are false and politically based; another attempt to bring him to America for the Wikileaks investigation.
“The accusations…are serious, and it is unacceptable that Ecuador would want to halt the Swedish judicial process and European judicial co-operation,” said a spokesperson for the Swedish foreign ministry.