May 21 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange applied for political asylum in Ecuador at its Embassy in London
The move came after failing in his bid to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sex crime allegations.
The 40-year-old Australian is currently inside the building in Knightsbridge, having gone there yesterday afternoon to request asylum under the United Nations Human Rights Declaration.
The country’s foreign minister Ricardo Patino told a press conference in the South American country that it was considering his request.
In a short statement last night, Mr Assange said: “I can confirm that today I arrived at the Ecuadorian Embassy and sought diplomatic sanctuary and political asylum. This application has been passed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the capital Quito.
“I am grateful to the Ecuadorian ambassador and the government of Ecuador for considering my application.”
A statement issued on behalf of the Ecuadorian Embassy yesterday said Mr Assange would remain at the embassy while his request was considered.
“As a signatory to the United Nations Universal Declaration for Human Rights, with an obligation to review all applications for asylum, we have immediately passed his application on to the relevant department in Quito,” it said.
“While the department assesses Mr Assange’s application, Mr Assange will remain at the embassy, under the protection of the Ecuadorian Government.
“The decision to consider Mr Assange’s application for protective asylum should in no way be interpreted as the government of Ecuador interfering in the judicial processes of either the United Kingdom or Sweden.”
It later added: “In order to reach a proper decision in line with international law on Mr Assange’s application, the Ecuadorian government will be seeking the views of the governments of the United Kingdom, Sweden and the United States of America.
“The Ecuadorian government will consider all the representations carefully as it is obliged to do under the accepted process in assessing such applications.”
Mr Patino, speaking at a press conference in Ecuador yesterday, said that Assange had written to the country’s president, Rafael Correa, saying he was being persecuted and seeking asylum.
He told the press conference that the Australian had argued that “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”.