Ecuador Grants Wikilieakes’ Julian Assange Political Asylum
At last, the Ecuadorian government today granted Wikileaks founder, Julian Asange political asylum amidst threats from the British government to storm the Ecuadorian embassy in London to arrest Asange.
The WikiLeaks founder has been holed up in the South American country’s London embassy for almost two months as he tries to avoid being sent to Sweden, where two women have accused him of sexual assault.
A moment ago, the Ecuadorian government finally announced that it had agreed to give the maverick Australian asylum because of his fears of persecution over the secret files his whistle-blowing organisation has revealed, which he believes could see him sent to face an unfair trial in America.
There was applause as the foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, made the declaration that Mr Assange had been given “diplomatic asylum” at a press conference in the capital, Quito.
“We believe that his fears are legitimate and there are the threats that he could face political persecution.
“We trust that that the UK will offer as soon as possible the guarantee for the safe passage of asylum for Mr Assange and they will respect those international agreements they have signed in the past.”
But Ecuador’s decision is unlikely to end the stand-off over his future as Mr Assange, who is in breach of his bail conditions, faces arrest as soon as he steps outside the embassy premises in Knightsbridge.
The British authorities stepped up the police presence around the building on Wednesday night and warned Ecuador they could use a rarely-cited law to withdraw the embassy’s diplomatic protection.
This would allow officers to go inside and arrest Mr Assange, a move condemned as a “complete intimidation” by Ecuadorian officials.
Ecuador claimed Britain had threatened to “storm” the building, which would have “significant implications” for countries around the world.
In a separate statement, WikiLeaks condemned the “menacing show of force” by police and said any transgression against the “sanctity” of the embassy would be a “shameful act”.
A loud cheer rang out from the crowd of noisy supporters who had been gathered outside the embassy all morning to await the decision.
Ecuadorians marched up and down the street chanting “hands off Ecuador”, “there’s only one decision – no extradition”, and “Julian Assange, freedom fighter.”
Police lining the street looked on as one supporter shouted into a microphone: “We call on the British Government to do the decent thing. Stop the extradition proceedings against Julian Assange.
“Stop trying to bully everyone. We agree with the decision of the Ecuadorian government. Ecuador is not a British colony.”
Many supporters wore Anonymous masks associated with the hacking group that has attacked Government and other websites.
Not all believed Assange would make it out of the country without being arrested.
David Campos, 31, a musician, said: “The British Government are being American puppets.
“I don’t think Julian Assange will manage to get away from here, unfortunately. I think they’ll arrest him on the way to the airport.”
James Harding, 21, a computer programmer, said: “I think it’s great the Ecuadorian people are behind someone as important as Julian Assange.
“WikiLeaks has highlighted so many areas of corruption. In the little time it’s been around, it’s pretty much changed the world.”
Zack Gilpin, 44, a freelance IT consultant, said: “I expected this decision. It’s the right thing to do because his human rights are not being respected.”
Earlier two supporters of Mr Assange were arrested.
A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office insisted that the asylum decision did not affect its determination to see Mr Assange sent to Sweden.
“We are disappointed by the statement from Ecuador’s Foreign Minister that Ecuador has offered political asylum to Julian Assange,” he said in a statement.
“Under our law, with Mr Assange having exhausted all options of appeal, the 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. We remain committed to a negotiated solution that allows us to carry out our obligations under the Extradition Act.”
-Additional reports from The Telegraph
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