Ecuador grants asylum to Assange, angering Britain
LONDON/QUITO, (Reuters) – Ecuador granted political asylum to WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange yesterday, a day after it said Britain had threatened to raid the Ecuadorean embassy in London to arrest the former hacker.
Britain has said it is determined to extradite him to Sweden, where he is accused of rape and sexual assault. Assange fears he will ultimately be sent to the United States which is furious that his WikiLeaks website has leaked hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic and military cables.
Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said his country feared for the safety of the Australian, who had lodged an asylum request with President Rafael Correa, a self-declared enemy of “corrupt” media and U.S. “imperialism”.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague said that London would not allow Assange safe passage out of the country.
Patino told a news conference in Quito that Assange’s extradition to a third country without proper guarantees was probable, and that legal evidence showed he would not get a fair trial if eventually transferred to the United States.
“This is a sovereign decision protected by international law. It makes no sense to surmise that this implies a breaking of relations (with Britain),” he said.