WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange: Responsible
for some of the most
of confidential U.S. government data in history, the
Australian national has taken refuge at Ecuador’s embassy in
and is seeking political
asylum, after Britain’s High Court cleared the
way for his extradition to
Sweden on charges that he sexually abused
two women. Assange says the charges are 'politically motivated.' Once
in Sweden, Mr. Assange fears he will likely be extradited to the U.S.
Julian Assange Grateful to Ecuador for Taking Up
His Asylum Request (El Universo, Ecuador)
economic boycott and the possibility of being handed over to the authorities of
the United States by British, Swedish or Australian authorities have led me to
seek asylum on Ecuadorean territory and protection to allow me to continue with
QUITO: Julian Assange, founder of
the organization WikiLeaks, which revealed thousands of U.S. State Department
diplomatic cables, took refuge yesterday at the Ecuador Embassy in London,
while awaiting the government’s response to his political asylum request.
Also yesterday, Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño
called the media to a press conference in which no questions were allowed to
report on Assange’s asylum request, which was made in
a letter to President Rafael Correa. [see video in photo box].
"The Government of Ecuador is evaluating the request of
Julian Assange, whatever decision it takes regarding him will take into account the norms and principles of international law, just as Ecuador's traditional policies are sensitive to human rights," Chancellor
The 41-year-old Assange, an Australian
journalist and "ex-hacker" who has been residing in London and is
wanted by Swedish authorities for "sexual offenses," managed to
breach U.S. State Department security systems with his organization WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks
then disseminated diplomatic cables of the various U.S. diplomatic missions
around the world, amongst which were cables from the U.S. Embassy in Ecuador,
which led to the expulsion of U.S. Ambassador Heather Hodges.
On April 6 2011, Correa's government declared Hodges “persona
non grata” after a cable was published in Spain newspaper El País, alleging
corruption among police in Ecuador led at the time by Commander Jaime Hurtado, and with the full knowledge of President Correa.
A day later, in response to Ecuador’s decision, the U.S. government
expelled Ambassador Luis Gallegos from its territory
Diplomatic relations with Washington were restored last May
- fourteen months later, when the U.S. Congress confirmed the appointment of
Adam Namm as ambassador to Quito, who on Monday presented
his credentials at Carondelet
[Ecuador’s presidential palace and seat of government.]
On June 14, the Supreme Court, Britain’s highest judicial
body, rejected Assange’s request to reopen his case
in order to prevent his extradition to Sweden.
Patiño read Assange’s
letter in which he attributed his asylum request to the“regrettable factual
statement of abandonment” by Australian authorities for failing to “defend even
my minimum guarantees before any government and delegate them ... to
a foreign country that applies the death penalty for the crime of espionage and
treason ... ".
[Editor’s Note: In what may be the reason Assange decided he had to flee the developed world, one of his attorneys, Jennifer Robinson, received a letter from the Australia government that she characterized
as "a declaration of abandonment.” In the letter, Australian Attorney General Nicola Roxon wrote in part: "Australia would not expect to be a party to any extradition discussions that may take place between the United States and the United Kingdom or the United States and Sweden, as extradition is a matter of bilateral law enforcement cooperation ... should Mr. Assange be convicted of any offence in the United States and a sentence of imprisonment imposed, he may apply for an international prisoner transfer to Australia].
Patiño admitted that this is a
"delicate" issue and announced that the government will carefully analyze,
evaluate and review the application before taking a decision.
On April 17 Assange interviewed
Correa, which was posted by Russia Today on May 23 [watch above]. There,
the WikiLeaks founder talks of his distress that the interview was being
conducted from “England, where I have been under house arrest for 500 days”
without being charged.
The video conference took about 26 minutes. In it, the
Australian posed more than ten questions to Correa, who spoke of the expulsion
of Hodges, the police revolt of September 30, 2010, the innocence of General Hurtado, what is behind the “real power” of the media, alleged U.S. meddling
in the affairs of Latin American governments and the leadership of President
The interview ended with Correa expressing solidarity with Assange due to his legal status. "It’s been a pleasure
to meet you Julian, at least in this way, and cheer up … welcome to the club of
the persecuted, "he said.
In the letter read by Patiño, Assange adds that, "Death threats, economic boycott
and the possibility of being handed over to the authorities of the United
States by British, Swedish or Australian authorities have led me to seek asylum
on Ecuadorean territory and protection to allow me to continue with my mission."
On November 2010, Deputy Foreign Minister Kintto Lucas offered Assange residence
without condition to encourage him to reveal all of the U.S. State Department
However, Lucas Correa disavowed. "We are never going to
support breaking the law, although I think the U.S. made a big mistake,"
But President Correa disavowed the offer.
"We are never going to support breaking the law,
although I think the United States made a big mistake," he said.