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Assange seeks political asylum in Ecuador

20 Jun 2012, 07:15

Published: 20 Jun 2012 07:15 GMT+02:00

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The former computer hacker, who last week exhausted all his legal options in Britain to fight extradition, was holed up at the embassy in central London while Quito examined the request, officials said.

Britain's Foreign Office said Assange was "beyond the reach of the police" because he was on diplomatic territory, but stressed it would seek to work with the Ecuadorian authorities "to resolve this situation as soon as possible."

Assange will remain at the embassy under the protection of the Ecuadorian government while his application is considered.

"The decision to consider Mr. Assange's application for protective asylum should in no way be interpreted as the Government of Ecuador interfering in the judicial processes of either the United Kingdom or Sweden," the embassy said in a statement.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Tuesday that Australia will continue to offer consular assistance to Assange.

"Australia will continue to support Mr. Assange just as we do support any Australian overseas who faces legal difficulties or dilemmas," Gillard told reporters after a Group of 20 summit in Mexico.

Assange confirmed in a statement he was seeking "diplomatic sanctuary and political asylum" and expressed his gratitude to the Ecuadorian ambassador and government for considering the request.

In Quito, Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said: "Julian Assange has requested political asylum at the diplomatic mission of Ecuador in London.

"The government is examining the request."

The embassy later confirmed it would be seeking the views of Britain, Sweden and the United States in order to make sure it complied with international law.

Assange has always maintained that the moves to extradite him to Sweden for questioning over allegations of rape and sexual assault are politically motivated and that the real aim is for him to be handed over to US authorities.

The silver-haired 40-year-old Australian's website enraged Washington by releasing a flood of classified US information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It also published more than 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables, revealing often candid assessments of a huge range of issues as well as the views of other governments.

Ecuador offered Assange residency in 2010, with the government saying at the time it wanted to invite Assange to speak in Ecuador after expressing concern about some of the alleged US activities revealed by Wikileaks.

Assange interviewed Ecuador's President Rafael Correa for his talk show aired on the Russian international television station RT in April.

The embassy is in the upmarket west London district of Knightsbridge, near to Harrods department store and in the same mansion block as the Colombian embassy.

A supporter of Assange, Jemima Khan, the former wife of Pakistan politician Imran Khan, said on Twitter she was "as surprised as anyone" by the move and had expected him to face the allegations in Sweden.

Story continues below…

The request for asylum came after Britain's Supreme Court last week rejected an application by Assange to reopen his appeal against extradition.

The decision closed Assange's last legal avenue in Britain, although he could still take his case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg.

The court said extradition proceedings could not begin for two weeks.

Assange's lawyers have until June 28 to apply to the Strasbourg court to consider his case on the basis that he has not had a fair hearing from the British courts.

In the United States, soldier Bradley Manning is facing trial over accusations that he handed a huge cache of documents to WikiLeaks.

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Your comments about this article

09:05 June 20, 2012 by Tammybonny
stupid man.. should have gone to the argentine embassy....how interesting that would be.... :-)
09:47 June 20, 2012 by klubbnika
Good riddance.
10:01 June 20, 2012 by gpafledthis
Well here is sweedie foreign office chance to shine (1st you have to pull it OUT) there heads UP !! Ecuador has jungles that need demolishing (offer 3 volvos the real big suckers) chance for national outrage too !! Want to hear old guys giggle/chortle ?? Tune into the USA !! Rendition we provide "Con Air" too !!
10:11 June 20, 2012 by Nilspet
Hard to predict the outcome but it can go Assange's way because Ecuador can even give him a citizenship if it wants to do so. Sweden has granted citizenships to foreigners who are fugitives in their countries of origin and certainly things got complicated.
10:12 June 20, 2012 by smilingjack
the whole world knows these 2 slappers have concocted the whole story at the insistance of the USA and that the swedes will hand him over to their bosses - the usa - in the blink of an eye.

keep fighting Julian the intelligent communities of the world support you.
10:18 June 20, 2012 by gpafledthis
Keep smilin jack !! ya got it right "don't fight city hall" must be typo - it's "the intelligence communities.............support us(US) observe Viet Nam you can lose by winning !! Ya hear NV offered us DaNang back ???
10:53 June 20, 2012 by Dazzler
Uncle Leon, I await your orders.
11:40 June 20, 2012 by radamanthys
it's sad to realise just how cosy Sweden's relationship with neo-con America has become..........are the Swedish public suddenly blind?
11:46 June 20, 2012 by Rebel
Oh shucks, does this mean Obama will not accept Reinfeld's friend request on Facebook?

Oh well, Bildt still go this picture with Hilary so he can at least be happy.
12:06 June 20, 2012 by klubbnika
The female employees at the embassy should be worried.
12:32 June 20, 2012 by Jules
Man up Mr Assange, go face the judgement of your peers. What have you to fear from an open court with the worlds media watching in a liberal democracy? Unless you are indeed a cowardly rapist trying to squirm his way out of justice!
13:46 June 20, 2012 by smilingjack
hard to man up when sycophantic sweden desperate for a bit of international attention will hand him over to the worlds most notorious kidnappers, mass murderers and torturers. what little credibility sweden had on the world stage is just about gone. be afraid Julian. Be very afraid. Ive be making sure people in other countries know just how far up the USA's bum the swedes are. Go and get those american flag shoes, scarfs, jumpers and pants on folks. I was out and about on your national day and didnt see a single swedish flag but saw hundreds of american flags. how embarrassing.
14:39 June 20, 2012 by Dazzler
Do you morons realize it would be easier for the US to extradite this fool from the UK? If America wanted him, he would be in GITMO or dead and buried by now.
14:41 June 20, 2012 by unionisten
smilingjack you must stop using those pills you see conspiracys everywhere

sweden cant hand the coward over to usa and thats it,

the coward is just trying to escape justice and he has showed us that he is spineless
18:41 June 20, 2012 by Tarc the Mexan
Assange is quickly becoming a parody of himself.
08:15 June 22, 2012 by hawkeye ajustralia
How stupid are these people who think the US concocted this with those 2 girls?

First off the U.S. has an extradition treaty with the UK which is much more pro U.S. than Sweden.

Assange has got himself a get out of jail card,because anytime he is arrested for a legitimate offence he can claim the U.S.is behind it.

Also it's amazing that he is now whining about the Australian government not helping him,which incidentally is not true. He leaks confidential information about Australian military and diplomatic secrets and then turns around and want's help from the government he is undermining.

Additionally he has done damage to the American government _Assange just like the rest of the free world lives under the protection of the U.S.Military and the U.S. Government .yet Assange want's to bring it down. What a cretin!

Assange is just a coward who refuses to face his accusers-the CIA stuff is all rubbish and you twits actually believe it.

Oh and just to prove what a loser he is -his friends ponied up I believe something around $750,000 for his bail and they will now lose it. So that's the person you believers are rooting for.
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