Wikileaks founder seeks asylum in Ecuador embassy
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is seeking political asylum at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, after his failed bid to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sex crime allegations.
The 40-year-old Australian walked into the country’s embassy in Knightsbridge and asked for political asylum and diplomatic sanctuary under the United Nations Human Rights Declaration. He said in a statement that his application has been passed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the capital Quito.
The Metropolitan Police said Assange is subject to arrest after breaching one of the bail conditions imposed on him by the High Court, which was to stay at his bail address between 10pm and 8am.
As a signatory to the UN Universal Declaration for Human Rights, the Ecuadorian government said in a statement that it is “evaluating the request of Julian Assange and whatever decision that we adopt about him will take into account the respect for the norms and principles of international law.”
“While the department assesses Mr Assange’s application, Mr Assange will remain at the embassy, under the protection of the Ecuadorian government,” the statement added.
Ecuador’s foreign minister Ricardo Patino told a press conference in the South American country that Mr Assange wrote to the country’s president, Rafael Correa, saying he was being persecuted and was seeking asylum.
Assange is facing extradition to Sweden over allegations that he sexually assaulted two women. He has not been charged with any crime and denies any wrongdoing in relation to the two women.
“In my view, it is a situation of political persecution of Julian Assange for his political activities,” says Michael Ratner, a member of Assange’s legal team. “It fits in the asylum application procedure under the Declaration of Human Rights.”
Assange accused Sweden of investigating him because of “political crimes” in the United States, “a place that applies the death penalty for the crime of espionage and sedition.” He argued: “the authorities in his country will not defend his minimum guarantees in front of any government or ignore the obligation to protect a politically persecuted citizen”.
As Assange lost his appeal to the UK Supreme Court on 14th June to prevent his extradition to Sweden, he was granted a two-week grace period until 28th June to ask European judges in Strasbourg to make an application to reopen the case and postpone extradition on the basis that he has not had a fair hearing from the UK supreme court.