Ecuador said Thursday that it will be granting asylum to WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange. This decision, although good for the supporters of Assange, does little to defuse the growing standoff at the Ecuador Embassy in London, where Assange has been held up for two months claiming political persecution.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Ricardo Patino said he and Ecuador believes that Assange faces real political persecution, including the possibility of extradition to the United States, where Patino said he believed that Assange would not have a fair trial.
“It is not impossible that he would be treated in a cruel manner, condemned to life in prison, or even the death penalty,” Patino told journalists in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. “Ecuador is convinced that his procedural rights have been violated.”
The Foreign Affairs Ministry of Britain said they are disappointed with the decision, but they are going to continue to try and perform their legal obligation of extraditing Assange to Sweden where he faces sexual assault charges.
Assange rose to ‘fame’ after his site, WikiLeaks, released huge amounts of top-secret U.S documents. This led to outraged Americans and calls to politicians to have Assange hunted down like a terrorist, so he can stand trial in America for his crimes.
Assange is wanted in Sweden for questioning on allegations of sexual assault, but fears that Sweden and the United States are working together so he could ultimately stand trial in the U.S.
Sweden officials have claimed that two women have come forward and accused Assange of sexual misconduct, and they have denied that their actions of extradition are politically motivated. Director of Public Prosecution Marianne Ny declined to comment on the asylum decision by Ecuador.
When the decision was made that Assange was granted political asylum, there were cheers outside of the Ecuador Embassy from Assange supporters.
Assange remains in the Ecuador Embassy where he has been staying since June 19th, just days before he faced extradition to Sweden. British authorities pledge to arrest Assange if he leaves the Embassy. The investigation in Sweden and Britain is still ongoing.
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