Wikileaks founder: Ecuador grants Assange asylum


Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño said Thursday at a press conference in the capital Quito that the decision had been taken in favor of Assange, who had fled to the Embassy of Ecuador in London, to protect his life from persecution risks in the United States. The British Foreign Ministry had recently suggested that Britain would grant Assange no safe passage for a flight to Ecuador.

Assange has been in the Embassy of Ecuador in London since mid-June. The Swedish judiciary charges him with sexual offenses and has therefore obtained an EU-wide arrest warrant against him.

Patiño once again accused Britain of threatening to intrude on the embassy of the South American state in London in order to assassinate Assange.

Ecuador has asked the South American Confederation Unasur and the Organization of American States (OAS) to convene the foreign ministers of its members to agree on a common position on the British position. The Unasur ministers could already meet in Quito this weekend. OAS Secretary-General José Miguel Insulza has pledged an early Ministerial Conference, Ecuador's Foreign Minister said.

In a first statement on the Internet platform Twitter, the British Foreign Ministry was "disappointed" by the decision in Quito. However, London continues to hope for a negotiated solution that will allow the British authorities to fulfill their obligations under the extradition laws.

The 41-year-old Australian Assange is to be delivered from the UK to Sweden. There he is accused of sexually harassing two women in the summer of 2010 and raping them in one case. Assange denies this. He fears that an interrogation in Sweden could be followed by extradition to the US. His Wikileaks platform had made public thousands of despatches publicizing the US role in various international conflicts, including Afghanistan and Iraq. (Dpa / tc)