Julian Assange will be granted asylum in Ecuador, says official
The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, will be granted asylum by the Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa after seeking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London on 19thJune.
Mr Assange sought consular assistance to avoid facing deportation to Sweden where he faces a rape trial. The rape accusations were brought forward by two women whom Assange claims to have slept with consensually.
Assange fears that Sweden will then deport him to America, where, in 2010, he published thousands of American cables in a damaging scandal for the White House. If this were to happen, he could find himself tried under capital charges resulting in execution.
Ecuador – the first country to see the cables in 2011 – will grant asylum in a move that many are calling a red herring: little more than a gesture. Assange will still be liable to find safe passage out of the country once his asylum is confirmed.
Assange will be immune to arrest whilst he is travelling in a diplomatic car, but will have to leave the car at some point to enter the airport. The embassy – based on the ground floor of a building – has only one exit which is currently being watched by the police 24 hours a day.
Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said: “It’s not only about whether to grant the asylum, because for Mr Assange to leave England he should have a safe pass from the British [government]. Will that be possible? That’s an issue we have to take into account.”
There has been talk of appointing Assange as the Ecuadorian ambassador to London, or as an envoy to the United Nations, but these appointments would need approval which the UK has no incentive to give.
Sweden and the UK are both signatories of the European Convention of Human Rights, meaning that they are unable to extradite people to a country in which they are likely to face the death penalty.
This means that the United States would have to guarantee Assange’s safety before deportation, leaving some confused as to why he is fighting his extradition to Sweden.