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Envoy reacts to Ecuador ridicule in Sweden

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Envoy reacts to Ecuador ridicule in Sweden
17:39 CEST+02:00
Ecuador's ambassador to Sweden Thursday defended his homeland against criticism over press freedom following its granting of asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is wanted by authorities in Stockholm.

In nearly a full-page article in the Swedish tabloid Expressen, Mario Guerrero Murgueytio also explained why some some media in Ecuador have been banned.

The ambassador was reacting to the way Ecuador has been portrayed in the Swedish press since August 16, when it granted asylum to Assange, who had sought refuge in its London embassy to avoid being extradited to Sweden for questioning on sexual assault allegations.

Over the past few months Expressen had "published articles concerning the Julian Assange affair but has also expressed certain points of view on freedom of the press in Ecuador," he wrote.

Much of the Swedish press has called it paradoxical that Assange was given asylum, ostensibly in defence of press freedom, in a country that suppresses

local media according to several human rights group.

The Ecuadoran ambassador in his article countered that between October 2009

and August 2012, 99 media outlets lost their licences, most of them for failing to pay taxes. At the same time 240 media were given permission to publish.

Assange denies the sex crime allegations and fears Sweden would extradite him to the United States, where his supporters claim he could receive harsh treatment and possibly even the death penalty.

WikiLeaks embarrassed the US government in 2010 by publishing huge caches of confidential documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and more than 250,000 diplomatic cables from US embassies.

Britain, whose courts granted Sweden's extradition request, has said Assange will be arrested if he leaves the embassy.

AFP/The Local

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