Julian Assange: Ecuador to Grant Wikileaks Founder Asylum, But Britain Remains Adamant on His Extradition
Aug 16, 2012 12:21 PM EDT
(Photo : Reuters)
On Thursday, the Ecuadorian foreign minister Ricardo Patino announced at a news conference in Quito that Ecuador would be granting Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange, asylum thus shielding him from being extradited from Britain to Sweden where he faces charges of rape and sexual molestation.
"We have decided to grant political asylum to him...The countries that have a right to protect Assange have failed him...Assange is victim of political persecution ... If Assange is extradited to U.S., he will not receive a fair trial," as reported by Yahoo News.
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Two months ago, Assange sought shelter in the Ecuadorian embassy by filing a petition seeking asylum from being extradited to Sweden, where he will be charged with rape and sexual assault. Assange has repeatedly claimed that the accusations were mere a device of getting the whistleblower to US authorities so he could be indicted for divulging State secretes.
Patino requested the British government that they grant the embassy permission to fly 41-year-old Assange to Ecuador, but British authorities have declined any such permission, releasing a statement saying, "British authorities are under a binding obligation to extradite him to Sweden...We shall carry out that obligation. The Ecuadorian government's decision this afternoon does not change that," as reported by Yahoo News.
The announcement has stirred some animosity between the two countries, particularly on the social media site Twitter. On Wednesday, Patino told the New York Times, "Today we have received from the United Kingdom an explicit threat in writing that they could assault our embassy in London if Ecuador does not hand over Julian Assange," to which Patino retorted "We want to be very clear, we're not a British colony...Colonial times are over."as reported by the New York Times.
Ecuadorian President, Rafael Correa Tweeted, "No one is going to terrorize us!" on his Twitter page Rafael Correa @MashiRafael. A member of the British Parliament, Louise Mensch, then Tweeted "Assange is going to Sweden. WE are going to extradite him there. That's it and that's all," on her Twitter page Louise Mensch@LouiseMensch.
It remains to be seen what will happen, whether the Ecuador is protected under international law to grant political asylum or whether Britain's defiance will over-rule.
Assange and Wikileaks supporters gathered in front of the Ecuadorian embassy. According to reports the British police have already arrested a few protestors.
In June, after ruling in favor of Assage's extradition, the British Supreme Court refused to review his appeal to extradition releasing a statement stating, "The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has dismissed the application made by Ms. Dinah Rose QC, counsel for Mr. Julian Assange, seeking to reopen their appeal," as reported by the AFP.
Assange rose to fame in 2010 when he leaked a number of US diplomatic cables and videos regarding the war in Iraq and Afghanistan through his co-founded online organization Wikileaks. The organization stirred great derision from Washington and other countries whose secrets were divulged. Assange and his team argue that there is foul play in the alleged sex crimes allegations and that these accusations are sponsored by a number of upset politicians.