A Fundamental Human Right: Ecuador Grants Assange Political Asylum

Published on Spiegel Online International, by , August 16, 2012. (Linked with Assange Embassy Controversy: Britain Threatens To Raid Ecuador’s Embassy Over Amnesty Issue).

Ecuador on Thursday said it would grant political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up in the country’s embassy in London for weeks now. Britain says it still intends to extradite the whistleblower to Sweden, where he faces questioning over allegations of sexual offenses … //

… Britain Says It Will Still Detain Assange:  

Earlier, a Foreign Office official said the British government would not permit Assange to leave the country, even if Ecuador provided him with asylum. The official said Assange would be detained by British officials as soon as he left the embassy.

Assange is trying to avoid extradition to Sweden because, he has claimed, he fears the government there will in turn extradite him to the United States, where he could face charges relating to the WikiLeaks release of hundreds of thousands of classified US government documents, most originating from the Pentagon or the State Department. The documents, which were reported on by a group of prominent international media that included SPIEGEL, shed light on the US role in Afghanistan, Iraq and other global hot spots.

Ecuador : We Are Not a British Colony:

Patiño said Thursday he had received written notice from British officials that they would “assault” the embassy in London if Ecuador didn’t hand Assange over. “We are not a British colony,” he said. “Those times are passed.” He said any storming of the embassy would be viewed as “hostile and intolerable and, as well, an attempt on our sovereignty which would oblige us to respond with the greatest diplomatic force.” The British Foreign Office denied it had made any threats against Ecuador. In a statement, officials said: “Throughout this process we have drawn the Ecuadorians’ attention to relevant provisions of our law.”
The Ecuadorean foreign minister said that Assange could face a real threat of political persecution as well as the death penalty if he were extradited to the United States due to the publication of the WikiLeaks cables.

Scores of police were sent to provide reinforcement at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London on Thursday as the decision was announced.

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