Ecuador grants political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
On Thursday, the Ecuadorian embassy in London officially granted asylum to WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange, who stands accused of rape and sexual assult in Sweden.
Assange sent a request for asylum directly to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, and on Thursday, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño released a statement granting the request. According to the New York Times, Patiño stated “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”.
The decision to give Assange amnesty came after the British government made plans to enter the embassy, arrest Assange, and facilitate his extradition to Sweden. Assange has been residing within the embassy for eight weeks, and if he leaves the property, will immediately be arrested by the British police. The British say they have a legal obligation to extradite Assange.
Reuters reports that the WikiLeaks founder fears he will be sent to jail in the United States because of his exposure of sensitive U.S. diplomatic and military information.
The British government has the option to remove Ecuador’s diplomatic status before entering to arrest Assange, but this would have negative repercussions for Ecuadorian-British relations.