Wednesday, June 20th 2012 - 06:33 UTC

Wikileaks’ Assange holed in Ecuadorian embassy and asked for political asylum

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Tuesday walked into Ecuador's embassy in London and applied for political asylum in a sensational bid to avoid extradition to Sweden over alleged sex crimes.

Julian Assange was to be extradite to Sweden and had exhausted all legal options in UK

The former computer hacker who last week exhausted all his legal options in Britain to fight extradition, was holed up at the embassy in central London while Quito examined the request, officials said.

Britain's Foreign Office said Assange was “beyond the reach of the police” because he was on diplomatic territory, but stressed it would seek to work with the Ecuadorian authorities “to resolve this situation as soon as possible.”

Assange will remain at the embassy under the protection of the Ecuadorian government while his application is considered.

“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,” the embassy said in a statement.

Assange confirmed in a statement he was seeking “diplomatic sanctuary and political asylum” and expressed his gratitude to the Ecuadorian ambassador and government for considering the request.

In Quito, Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño said: “Julian Assange has requested political asylum at the diplomatic mission of Ecuador in London.

”The government is examining the request.”

The embassy later confirmed it would be seeking the views of Britain, Sweden and the United States in order to make sure it complied with international law.

Assange has always maintained that the moves to extradite him to Sweden for questioning over allegations of rape and sexual assault are politically motivated and that the real aim is for him to be handed over to US authorities.

The silver-haired 40-year-old Australian's website enraged Washington by releasing a flood of classified US information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It also published more than 250.000 classified US diplomatic cables, revealing often candid assessments of a huge range of issues as well as the views of other governments.

Ecuador offered Assange residency in 2010, with the government saying at the time it wanted to invite Assange to speak in Ecuador after expressing concern about some of the alleged US activities revealed by Wikileaks.

Assange interviewed Ecuador's President Rafael Correa for his talk show aired on the Russian international television station RT in April.

The embassy is in the upmarket west London district of Knightsbridge, near to Harrods department store and in the same mansion block as the Colombian embassy.
 

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1 Doveoverdover (#) Jun 20th, 2012 - 07:01 am Report abuse
Having watched the performance of the Ecuadorian Ambassador at the C24 Julian obviously came to the conclusion that he would be very well received and, above all, protected from being made to “walk the plank” by the British (pirates).
2 Leiard (#) Jun 20th, 2012 - 07:26 am Report abuse
Maybe Argentina will take him.
After all he needs protection from that evil country Sweden with such a terrible record on human rights.
3 Idlehands (#) Jun 20th, 2012 - 08:14 am Report abuse
How does it work if they do give him asylum? Do they have to smuggle him out in a diplomatic bag?

Not sure the rest of his life on the run in Ecuador is really in his best interests but at least we'd be rid of him.

It will be an interesting development - I predict he'll be refused.
4 Leiard (#) Jun 20th, 2012 - 08:23 am Report abuse
We just want him to go, preferably to Sweden for questioning by Swedish authorities over accusations of raping a woman and sexually molesting and coercing another in Stockholm in August 2010.
5 Idlehands (#) Jun 20th, 2012 - 08:40 am Report abuse
He's a classic example of how power corrupts - even wikileaks members are sick of him.

I wonder what his supporters who paid his bail make of it?
6 GeoffWard2 (#) Jun 20th, 2012 - 09:08 am Report abuse
Strange comments (1-5).

Everyone was sufficiently keen to view US messages via 'Wikileaks'.
Now they want to see him gone.

Sweden's 'lady's' accusations are distinctly laughable, but Sweden is subject to political pressure from the US to extradite once on Swedish soil.

Guantanamo calls loudly to Assange, and he doesn't like the prospect of a lifetime incarceration without 'trial'.
The UK or his home country will not resist US pressure, so he seeks a non-extraditable country.

The US have succeeded in blighting the rest of his life, and have therefore succeeded in dissuading copy-cat revelations.

What happened to the US serviceman who actually 'stole' the material?
7 expbrit (#) Jun 20th, 2012 - 10:06 am Report abuse
@6
Nail smacked firmly on the head :-) This has zero to do with rape and everything to do with the US government throwing their weight around - as per bloody usual.
8 Idlehands (#) Jun 20th, 2012 - 01:08 pm Report abuse
“he seeks a non-extraditable country”

Why is he off to Ecuador then - they have an extradition treaty with the USA - though these charges relate to an offence allegedly committed in Sweden.

Either way - I have no time for Assange - he deliberately put Afghan lives at risk to the extent that even The Guardian abandoned him.
9 aussie sunshine (#) Jun 20th, 2012 - 01:54 pm Report abuse
When somebody tells the truth, Governments quickly silence them.
How shameful that a man of truth has to ask for asylum in Ecuador.
He fears for his life for revealing the dirty secrets of these so called governments we elect to power.
10 Idlehands (#) Jun 20th, 2012 - 02:00 pm Report abuse
He should take a leaf out of Paul Watson's book.

If these charges are so fraudulent he should face them down in the Swedish courts not try every avenue to avoid them.
11 rylang23 (#) Jun 20th, 2012 - 03:09 pm Report abuse
@ 10... You should tell that to Bradley Manning. Or maybe you don't know what the good US Government has put that young man through for the past two years for “telling the truth”. You, my friend, are extremely naive.
12 Idlehands (#) Jun 20th, 2012 - 03:21 pm Report abuse
Telling the truth and breaching national security are not mutually exclusive. What they have done to Bradley Manning is no different to what the USA does to numerous prisoners in the American jail system.

I'm not saying I like the US jail system but as he is being extradited to Sweden and not the USA it is of little relevance anyway.

What evidence is there that Sweden will extradite him to the USA - especially as he was there previously and wasn't extradited. Funny how his fear of extradition from Sweden has grown at the same time as the allegations of sexual crimes - you'd think he would have avoided the place altogether.

As for his flight to the Ecuadorian embassy - I am doubtful it will succeed as he would need to actually get to Ecuador.

“ If Assange steps out of the embassy, he is liable to be arrested. Were he to be given a diplomatic passport, that would not alter the situation: immunity from arrest is only conferred on diplomats accredited to the Court of St James's by the Foreign Office.

Any attempt by the Ecuadoreans to have him accredited would be rebuffed by UK authorities. Were Assange to accept an Ecuadorean diplomatic pasport, some suggest, he would become an Ecuadorean national - and therefore be unable to seek asylum in what would now be his own country's embassy”

It seems like a desperate ploy that will fail and cost those who posted his bail.
13 reality check (#) Jun 20th, 2012 - 03:25 pm Report abuse
This guy is wanted for questioning relating to allegations of sexual offences committed in Sweden. Sweden for god sake, one of the most if not the most liberal country in the world. He has exhausted all legal avenues in to avoid extradition from the UK, so he resorts to this. If he had spent half as much time and effort sorting this out through the Swedish legal system, all this would have been sorted out months ago. Nobody is going to convince me this is some US/ Swedish conspiracy against him, that is just pure fantasy.
14 Conqueror (#) Jun 20th, 2012 - 05:51 pm Report abuse
@6 Very strange comments by YOU. Britain is regularly called the USA's poodle, puppy or puppet by people who like to disparage. Now, just as a thought, if those insults were true, why didn't the British police or the SIS simply hustle him around to Grosvenor Square? Or say to the Americans, “We'll get him to the airport and on to your aircraft. After that he's all yours.” Strange that. Why go through a year's worth of legal hassle to try to get him to Sweden? As if the media was suddenly going to lose interest if he went to Sweden.

Now, as I recall, there's a principle called Occam's razor that says that the fewest assumptions offer the simplest explanation.

Let's compare. 1. Assange is innocent. 2. The sexual allegations against him are false. 3. He left Sweden to continue his business in Britain. 4. He has fought his way through any number of courts to avoid going back to Sweden. 5. He is afraid that, if he goes to Sweden, he will be handed over to U.S. authorities. 6. If handed over, he will face a pre-judged trial in the U.S. under the full glare of worldwide media attention. 7. He is confident that his own country (Australia) will not help him even though they are obliged, by their own laws, to do so. 8. With no further legal avenues in Britain, he goes to the Ecuadorian embassy.

And now the alternative: 1. Assange is guilty as hell. 2. After fooling one prosecution authority, he skipped Sweden before anyone else could ask questions. 3. He arrives in Britain, confident of his ability to weasel his way out of any extradition request by using British human rights cock-ups. 4. He weasels for a year, but fails. 5. He skips again and, being an honest, upstanding person, he jumps bail to do it.

Now quit being naive! He's a rat.
15 GeoffWard2 (#) Jun 20th, 2012 - 08:22 pm Report abuse
CSMonitor, a US medium, records CNN comment:

“CNN pulled the following comment:

That sound you're hearing is, the sound of the United States of America and it's lackys, losing their reputations as freedom loving countries.
It's the sound of hypocrisy, the sound of a cracking pretense.
It's the sound of the mockery we have made of the ideals we used to hold up to the rest of the world with pride.
Mr. Assange has shown us up for what we are; that is why we hate him so.
That is wht we will not rest until we see him destroyed because, destroy him we must, least we know ourselves for what we truly are.”

Salutary words from the United States of America.
16 Condorito (#) Jun 20th, 2012 - 08:41 pm Report abuse
@14
You make a good point.
There is one other simpler alternative:
He is guilty of a lesser crime which in Sweden is classed as rape and he doesn’t want to be jailed for rape. In Sweden “putting emotional pressure on someone” to engage in sexual activity is classed as rape.
17 Beef (#) Jun 20th, 2012 - 10:26 pm Report abuse
He is afraid of being condemed to death in the US. I dare say he is more likely to be killed a lot sooner in Ecuador though with the murder rate in the region.
18 GeoffWard2 (#) Jun 21st, 2012 - 10:16 am Report abuse
'Wikileaks':
I actually found the papers, letters and briefings from the US Embassy staffs around the world to be remarkably frank, informative and presenting the US in a good light.
It's sometimes impossible to 'see the wood for the trees' in South America (as elsewhere);
these papers, etc., have given me a much fuller and better contextual understanding of many of the 'hidden'/'re-written' events of contemporary South America.

I understand that the papers relating to Iraq, etc., are embarrassing to the President of the USA and his State Department. So be it.

The desire to punish Assange - to discourage the others from shedding light on the machinations of governance - is understandable;
but the process of its 'punishment' - the grinding and public destruction of the man - is not presenting the USA in a good light.
19 Idlehands (#) Jun 21st, 2012 - 10:30 am Report abuse
I wonder what Assange would do if Wikileaks received a mass of secret Ecuadorian correspondence.

He has already displayed that all nations are equal but some are more equal than others.
20 Englander (#) Jun 21st, 2012 - 10:55 am Report abuse
Seems like the Swedish sex charges and being foreign are saving Assange from being extradited immediately to the US from Britain.
21 Idlehands (#) Jun 21st, 2012 - 12:52 pm Report abuse
Have the US requested his extradition from the UK?
22 GeoffWard2 (#) Jun 21st, 2012 - 01:57 pm Report abuse
#19
The 'Wikileaks' papers prepared by US government personnel on Ecuador are most interesting. They have been in the public domain for some time.
23 Idlehands (#) Jun 21st, 2012 - 02:54 pm Report abuse
I was refering to secret Ecuadorian correspondence - not American correspondence about Ecuador.

Some wag has claimed his only means of escape is if Ecuador appoints him their representative to the UN - in which case he'd be shipped off to New York immediately.
24 GeoffWard2 (#) Jun 21st, 2012 - 04:57 pm Report abuse
Considering the generous interpretation of the rights of Western states to apprehend using anti-terrorism legislation, it is surprising that the USA has neither applied for extradition nor rendition in the Assange case.

The USA – or indeed the UK – could make a case for transfer and/or interrogation under extraordinary rendition (apprehension and extrajudicial transfer of a person from one state to another), and “torture by proxy” (transfer of ‘suspected terrorists’ to countries known to employ ‘harsh interrogation techniques’).

Sweden’s rape laws criminalize activities legal elsewhere - including the UK. The Assange accusations in Sweden do not constitute rape in the UK – hence the problem with extradition. But a conviction under Swedish rape law prohibits entry to many nations of the world. This is – arguably – the tactic of choice by the CIA on behalf of the government of the USA.

In 2001 Sweden enabled the USA (CIA) to transfer (rendition) and torture Arab asylum-seekers. This was still going on until 2006. It is unlikely that rendition could, today, happen via Sweden.
Equally D Millibrand put severe constraints on US rendition from the UK.
Assange’s choice of Ecuador is strange, as rendition is quite ‘negotiable’.

The question remains: why has the USA not applied to the UK for extradition on the substantive issue – Wikileaks?
The answer must be either (i) that the case cannot be made or (ii) that it would be too revealing of US policies to allow it to come to court.
25 Leiard (#) Jun 21st, 2012 - 07:35 pm Report abuse
Geoff

Laws do differ from country to country, however as a guest of that country, if you break their laws you should be prepared to judged by them.

Unfortunately Assange has such a high opinion of himself he feels he can do and act as he sees fit.

He has had his case tried through all levels of the British courts, he does not accept their decision, he jumps bail (a condition he had agreed to) and now seeks another country to try his luck.
26 GeoffWard2 (#) Jun 22nd, 2012 - 09:57 am Report abuse
#25
...... *accused* of breaking the law in Sweden.
Perhaps he did break the Swedish law.
Perhaps the Swedish law is strange.
Perhaps he may be judged guilty of transgression.
Perhaps he may be sentenced to incarceration.
Perhaps this would affect extradition to the USA.

...... *accused* of breaking the law in the US? (#24). Perhaps.
Perhaps he did break the US law.
Perhaps the law is strange.
Perhaps he may be judged guilty of transgression.
Perhaps he may be sentenced to incarceration.
Perhaps he may be sentenced under military law (Iraq, Afganistan);
perhaps he may be sentenced under 'terrorist laws' (homeland security); perhaps he may be sentenced under cyber-laws (take your pick).
Perhaps he may be behind bars for the whole of his life.

Which brings us full-circle back to what Assange has been placing in the public domain
- and society's/USA's (human) rights and freedoms,
- and the way governments hide their actions from the people,
... the content of #15.

This question is much bigger than one white-haired Australian.
The way we conduct ourselves as societies is being questioned.
There is no bigger question.
27 Idlehands (#) Jun 22nd, 2012 - 02:10 pm Report abuse
“There is no bigger question”

Yes there is: How do you reconcile general relativity with quantum mechanics?

The answer would benefit mankind far more.
28 Englander (#) Jun 22nd, 2012 - 03:13 pm Report abuse
26 Geoff Ward
I always respect what you have to say so this has made me think again about this.
However I keep going back to the fact that Sweden is a responsible, liberal type Country and will simply consider all the evidence and consider whether he has a case to answer. If he hasn't, then off he goes, wherever he wants to go. I admire what he does but rape is too serious to just brush under the carpet.
29 Leiard (#) Jun 22nd, 2012 - 03:42 pm Report abuse
Geoff

The way we conduct ourselves as societies will always be questioned and that is right, but surely we can not use this to excuse our own individual actions.

The question that is being asked is “Is he, not society, guilty of rape the charges that have been put before the Swedish courts”.
30 GeoffWard2 (#) Jun 22nd, 2012 - 08:23 pm Report abuse
Thanks, guys & gals, for a good debate, free of invective.
If only all correspondence on the site were so conducted, but I guess most people stand further back from the Assange issues c.f. Argentina-TFI, etc.

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