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Flood of email support for Assange asylum bid

The Ecuadorian embassies in the United States and Britain have received over 10,000 messages in support of political asylum for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Ecuadorian authorities announced Tuesday.

Flood of email support for Assange asylum bid

“More than 10,000 emails have been received at the moment,” Ecuador’s Minister of Foreign Affairs said in a public statement from Quito.

“Thousands of people asking the Ecuadorian government to accord asylum to Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, sent a steady stream of messages saying why they support him,” the statement added.

Quito received a demand for asylum from the Australian national, who took refuge in London’s Ecuadorian embassy on June 19, escaping extradition to Sweden, where he has been charged with two cases of sexual assault.

Assange worries that from Sweden, he will be extradited to the United States to face possible espionage charges, after releasing more than 250,000 American diplomatic cables on the Wikileaks whistleblowing site.

A letter in favour of the request for asylum was also addressed to Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa by the organization Just Foreign Policy, a US group advocating for civil liberties.

Among the signatures on the petition were those of film directors Michael Moore and Oliver Stone, actor Danny Glover and philosopher Noam Chomsky.

Maintaining that Assange’s only crime was journalism, the authors of the letter denounced what they believe to be an attack on freedom of the press and the public’s right to know the truth about American foreign policy.

Correa responded to the call for asylum Tuesday, saying that Quito must first “analyze the judicial process in Sweden” and that “these things take time. It’s not that simple.”

That same day, Correa met with his ambassador to Britain, Anna Alban, and Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino to discuss Assange’s request.

Correa, a leftist leader critical of Washington, has already expressed sympathy for the Wikileaks founder and said that his country will not accept instances of “political persecution.”

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JULIAN ASSANGE

Assange will cooperate with Sweden, but fight US warrant: lawyer

Julian Assange would cooperate with Swedish authorities if they reopen a rape case against him but will continue to resist any bid to extradite him to the United States, his lawyer said Sunday.

Assange will cooperate with Sweden, but fight US warrant: lawyer
Julian Assange's lawyer Jennifer Robinson in London on Thursday. Photo: AP Photo/Matt Dunham/TT

“We are absolutely happy to answer those queries if and when they come up,” Jennifer Robinson told Sky News television about the rape claims.

“The key issue at the moment is US extradition, which we have warned about for many years,” she added.

The WikiLeaks founder is in custody in London awaiting sentencing for breaching his British bail conditions in 2012 by seeking refuge in Ecuador's London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden.

He was arrested at the embassy on Thursday after Ecuador gave him up, and is now also fighting a US extradition warrant relating to the release by WikiLeaks of a huge cache of official documents.

The Australian has always denied the claims of sexual assault and rape in Sweden. The first expired in 2015 and the other was dropped in 2017, but the alleged rape victim has now asked for the case to be reopened.

If Stockholm makes a formal extradition request, the British government will have to decide whether to consider it before or after that of the United States.

Robinson said Assange would seek assurances from Sweden that he would not be sent on to America, saying: “That is the same assurance we were seeking in 2010 and the refusal to give that is why he sought asylum.”

She added: “He's not above the law. Julian has never been concerned about facing British justice or indeed Swedish justice. This case is and has always been about his concern about being sent to face American injustice.”

The US indictment charges Assange with “conspiracy” for working with former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to crack a password stored on Department of Defence computers in March 2010.

He faces up to five years in jail.

Manning passed hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, exposing US military wrongdoing in the Iraq war and diplomatic secrets about scores of countries around the world.

The conspiracy charge against Assange seems intended to sidestep limits on prosecution potentially arising from the US Constitution's First Amendment guarantee of press freedom.

But Robinson insisted: “This indictment clearly engages newsgathering activities and the kinds of communications that journalists have with sources all the time.”

The lawyer condemned as “outrageous” claims made by Ecuador about Assange's behaviour in the embassy, including that he smeared his faeces on the wall, saying: “That's not true.”

Quito also accused him of failing to care for his cat. WikiLeaks said Assange had asked his lawyers to “rescue him (the cat) from embassy threats” in October, adding: “They will be reunited in freedom.”

Assange's father, John Shipton, on Sunday urged Australia to bring his son home.

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