Ecuador grants asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

16 Aug 2012

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

Ecuador has granted asylum to Julian Assange, the founder of whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, eight weeks after he took refuge in its London embassy to avoid being extradited to Sweden.

Assange is wanted in Sweden for questioning over alleged sex crimes.

Ecuador’s foreign minister Ricardo Patino said Ecuador believed Assange’s fears of political persecution were “legitimate”, BBC News Online reported.

The immediate issue now is how Assange will get to Ecuador. If he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy, he risks being arrested by London police, who have said they will do so on the grounds he broke his bail conditions when he failed to return home after he lost an appeal to stop his extradition to Sweden in late May.

It’s doubtful the British government would grant Assange safe passage to an airport, as that would mean going against the Swedish arrest warrant and a ruling by Britain’s own Supreme Court that the warrant was valid, Reuters reported.

Assange has been adamant in his belief that extradition to Sweden will only result in him being handed over to US authorities keen to strike back over the Afghanistan military and diplomatic cables that were leaked to WikiLeaks and published by the site online in 2010.

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic