Julian Assange Granted Asylum in Ecuador
Julian Assange has been granted asylum in Ecuador, where he would avoid extradition to Sweden to face rape charges. The Wikileaks founder has been holing up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for two months, but early Thursday Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino announced Assange could take refuge in the country:
Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino says Ecuador found that Assange faces a real threat of political persecution including the threat of extradition to the United States, where Patino said the Australian would not get a fair trial and could face the death penalty.
The United Kingdom is responding with pressure, saying asylum would endanger the mere existence of Quito's embassy in London, heightening the drama:
Britain's tough talk on the issue takes what has become an international soap opera to new heights since Assange angered the United States by publishing secret U.S. diplomatic cables on his WikiLeaks website. It may also raise difficult questions for London about the sanctity of embassies' diplomatic status.
The Ecuadorean government, which said it would announce whether it had granted Assange's asylum request on Thursday at 7 a.m. (1200 GMT), has said any attempt by Britain to remove the diplomatic status of its embassy would be a "hostile and intolerable act".
Foreign Minister Patino's rightful and zingy response: "We're not a British colony. The colonial times are over." And yet it's an ever-complicated issue, tangled up by superpower governments using the rape allegations to, in the eyes of many, enact revenge against a man who spearheaded the exposure of their secrets. Meanwhile, there is the issue of the allegations themselves, with three seperate accusers seeing their personal lives turned into a neverending international fracas. But whatever the outcome, it's clear that Assange has supporters; the Ecuadorean Embassy is surrounded by protesters, including an Anonymous-esque flash mob of taxis, lined up outside to give Assange a ride. Read more here.