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Assange’s mum meets Ecuadorian president

The mother of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange met with Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa on Wednesday to discuss the fate of her son holed up at the country's embassy in Britain.

Assange's mum meets Ecuadorian president

“The important thing is for Julian to be assured that Ecuador is considering with great responsibility” his request, the president told Assange’s mother, Christine Assange, during their hour-long meeting.

Assange, 41, is seeking asylum in the South American nation to avoid his extradition to Sweden, where he is accused of sexual assault.

“I feel as a mother that he is not capable of the charges — not even the charges, the allegations against him,” his mother said in an interview with AFP at the Carondelet presidential palace after she met with Correa.

Christine Assange echoed her son’s fears that Sweden would extradite him to the United States to face charges for releasing masses of US military and diplomatic documents into the public domain.

“The US government feels that it can seek to try my son for espionage, and possibly executing him simply for doing the job of a good investigative journalist, which is telling the truth about power,” she said.

The United States has opened a criminal investigation into the leaks and is prosecuting US army private Bradley Manning in a military court. But it has not said whether it intends to bring charges against Assange as well.

Assange’s mother declined to discuss the substance of her conversation with Correa, but she is counting on his sympathy.

“The president, and his ministers, are very knowledgeable intelligent and compassionate people, genuinely so, and they have a good understanding of the case,” she said.

“It’s not a secret that the president and his foreign minister believe this case to be political,” she added.

Correa said his country has a “great humanist tradition and respect for human rights.”

He added that he respects Britain, Sweden, and the people of the United States, and that the matter bears consultation, but that, ultimately, “Ecuador does not negotiate over its sovereignty”.

Meanwhile, Assange told AFP that based on “a chronological history of the Swedish investigations and based on the fact, there is absolutely no doubt” the charges against her son are part of a political persecution against him.

During her meeting with Correa, Assange expressed her “concerns and qualms about what could happen to Julian Assange if he is extradited to Sweden by the British government,” Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino told reporters.

Assange sought refuge at Ecuador’s embassy on June 19th, fearing that he could be extradited to the United States from Sweden to stand trial for espionage, on account of the trove of leaked US diplomatic cables and military logs that were published on his whistleblower website.

The leak represented the biggest breach of US intelligence in history.

Patino has said that Ecuador will respond to Assange’s request on August

12th, after the London Olympics are finished.

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

He vowed earlier this month that his government would not yield to pressure from Britain, Sweden or the United States in deciding whether to grant Assange asylum.

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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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