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Ecuador still mulling Assange plea: Correa

President Rafael Correa said Saturday that Ecuador is still considering whether to grant political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is wanted in Sweden in connection with sexual assault allegations.

Ecuador still mulling Assange plea: Correa

“We are analyzing the case with full responsibility and, as we have said a thousand times, we have no deadline to make a decision,” Correa said.

“That decision will be absolutely sovereign and … (show) respect for human rights,” he added.

Assange remained holed up at Ecuador’s embassy in London on Saturday, defying a British police order to turn himself in for extradition to Sweden where he is sought on sex crime allegations.

The 40-year-old Australian insists those allegations are part of a politically-motivated effort to get him extradited to the United States, where he fears he could be put on trial for espionage or other crimes.

WikiLeaks enraged Washington by publishing a flood of secret information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as more than 250,000 confidential US diplomatic cables.

Assange’s supporters paint him as a whistle-blowing hero but his critics denounce him as a traitorous anarchist. He sought refuge at Ecuador’s embassy in London on June 19th.

Correa has often been at odds with Washington and offered Assange asylum in 2010.

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NORWAY

Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland

Norway, which has suspended the use of AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine until further notice, will send 216,000 doses to Sweden and Iceland at their request, the Norwegian health ministry said Thursday.

Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland
Empty vials of the AstraZeneca vaccine. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

“I’m happy that the vaccines we have in stock can be put to use even if the AstraZeneca vaccine has been paused in Norway,” Health Minister Bent Høie said in a statement.

The 216,000 doses, which are currently stored in Norwegian fridges, have to be used before their expiry dates in June and July.

Sweden will receive 200,000 shots and Iceland 16,000 under the expectation they will return the favour at some point. 

“If we do resume the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, we will get the doses back as soon as we ask,” Høie said.

Like neighbouring Denmark, Norway suspended the use of the AstraZeneca jab on March 11 in order to examine rare but potentially severe side effects, including blood clots.

Among the 134,000 AstraZeneca shots administered in Norway before the suspension, five cases of severe thrombosis, including three fatal ones, had been registered among relatively young people in otherwise good health. One other person died of a brain haemorrhage.

On April 15, Norway’s government ignored a recommendation from the Institute of Public Health to drop the AstraZeneca jab for good, saying it wanted more time to decide.

READ MORE: Norway delays final decision on withdrawal of AstraZeneca vaccine 

The government has therefore set up a committee of Norwegian and international experts tasked with studying all of the risks linked to the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which is also suspected of causing blood clots.

Both are both based on adenovirus vector technology. Denmark is the only European country to have dropped the AstraZeneca
vaccine from its vaccination campaign, and said on Tuesday it would “lend” 55,000 doses to the neighbouring German state of Schleswig-Holstein.

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