Ecuador grants Assange asylum; UK vows to ‘carry out’ extradition anyway
2012 08 16

By Dylan Stableford | The Lookout











Ecuador’s foreign minister announced on Thursday that the country would grant asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, defying threats by the British government to storm the Ecuadorean Embassy and extradite Assange to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning in cases of alleged rape and sexual molestation.

"We have decided to grant political asylum to him," Ricardo Patino said at the end of a long televised statement from the Ecuadorean capital of Quito, where he criticized the U.S. and U.K. governments for failing to protect Assange from political persecution.

"The countries that have a right to protect Assange have failed him," Patino said. "[Assange] is victim of political persecution. ... If Assange is extradited to U.S., he will not receive a fair trial."

The foreign minister said that Ecuador asked Sweden to promise it would not extradite Assange to the United States, but Sweden refused.

"Asylum is a fundamental human right," Patino said, adding that "international law" overrides local laws, and that Assange has "the right not to be extradited or expelled to any country."

A crowd gathered outside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where Assange, a 41-year-old Australian native, has been holed up since June, to hear the announcement. At least one protester was arrested.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office called Ecuador’s decision to grant Assange asylum "regrettable."

"British authorities are under a binding obligation to extradite him to Sweden," a spokesman for the office said. "We shall carry out that obligation. The Ecuadorean government’s decision this afternoon does not change that."

According to The Associated Press, Sweden summoned Ecuador’s ambassador to Stockholm, calling the decision to grant asylum to Assange "unacceptable."

Moments before the announcement, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa tweeted: "No one is going to terrorize us!"

It’s unclear what will happen to Assange now. U.K. authorities say his asylum is a violation of his probation--and there is reason to believe he would be arrested if he tried to leave the embassy. "Assange is going to Sweden," Louise Mensch, a conservative member of the British Parliament, tweeted. "We are going to extradite him there. That’s it and that’s all. #rape"

Assange fears that if he were extradited to Sweden, he would immediately be extradited to the United States, which has condemned WikiLeaks’ publication of classified documents. Assange and his supporters say the U.S. would charge him with espionage; the U.S. has not said whether or not it would pursue charges against him.

On Wednesday, Patino said he received a "clear and written" threat from British authorities who claimed "they could storm our embassy in London if Ecuador refuses to hand in Julian Assange."

"We want to be very clear, we’re not a British colony," Patino said. "Colonial times are over."

British officials said they are obligated to turn Assange over to Stockholm.

"The U.K. has a legal obligation to extradite Mr. Assange to Sweden to face questioning over allegations of sexual offenses and we remain determined to fulfill this obligation," a spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in response. "Under British law we can give them a week’s notice before entering the premises and the embassy will no longer have diplomatic protection. But that decision has not yet been taken. We are not going to do this overnight. We want to stress that we want a diplomatically agreeable solution."

In a statement early Thursday, WikiLeaks condemned the U.K.’s threat to raid the embassy:

A threat of this nature is a hostile and extreme act, which is not proportionate to the circumstances, and an unprecedented assault on the rights of asylum seekers worldwide.

In 2010, Swedish prosecutors in Stockholm issued warrants to question Assange about alleged sex crimes involving a pair of former WikiLeaks volunteers. Assange claims the charges are part of an international smear campaign stemming from WikiLeaks’ publication of diplomatic cables.

After a brief international manhunt, Assange turned himself in to London police in December 2010. He was granted bail and placed under house arrest. After Assange’s appeals to fight his extradition to Sweden were denied, he fled to the Ecuadorean Embassy.

Inside the embassy, Assange "sleeps on an air mattress in a small office that has been converted to a bedroom," according to the New York Times. "He has access to a computer and continues to oversee WikiLeaks, his lieutenants have said."

[...]


Read the full article at: news.yahoo.com









Related Articles
"Hunt for Assange on, Sweden a tool of US"
Ecuadoran Foreign Minister thinks Assange charges laughable
Assange asks for political asylum in Ecuador
The Hunt for Assange silences whistleblowers


Latest News from our Front Page

Norway Joins the Race to Develop Killer Robots
2014 10 24
Norway is a large exporter of weapons, which makes the resolution of the debate about creating killer robots an important issue for everyone.  One could debate the overall merits or failings of robotic systems, but an area that clearly has become a point for concern on all sides is the emergence of "killer robots." According to robotics pioneer, David Hanson, ...
Gene That Once Aided Survival in the Arctic Found to Have Negative Impact on Health Today
2014 10 23
In individuals living in the Arctic, researchers have discovered a gene variant that arose thousands of years ago and most likely provided an evolutionary advantage for processing high-fat diets or for surviving in a cold environment; however, the variant also seems to increase the risk of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and infant mortality in today’s northern populations. {snip} “Our work ...
The Ebola hoax: questions, answers, and the false belief in the “One It”
2014 10 23
“The Reality Manufacturing Company doesn’t just sell ‘fake paintings’ that are easy to spot. No. They also sell images that are geared to mesh with people’s deeply held instincts and thereby produce rigid false beliefs. People are sure that if they gave up such beliefs, their world would fall apart and blow away in the wind.” ...
New Controversial Theory Suggests "Hobbits" Were Not Human - Who Were These Mysterious Beings?
2014 10 23
The origin of the Hobbit species remains a challenging subject to scientists. The Hobbit’s discovery confirmed the view that the Earth was once populated by many species of human, but new research the Hobbit’s were not human at all! So, who were these mysterious beings? Where did they come from? The idea that our species, Homo sapiens, was the only species of human on ...
Right into enemy hands? ISIS shows off new weapons allegedly airdropped by US (VIDEO)
2014 10 23
Islamic State has published a new video in which a jihadist shows off brand-new American hardware, which was purportedly intended for the Kurds they are fighting in the Syrian border town of Kobani. The undated video, posted by the unofficial IS mouthpiece “a3maq news”, sees a jihadist showing several boxes of munitions with English-language markings, with a parachute spread out on ...
More News »