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Assange Asylum in Ecuador? UK Guardian Says Yes, Correa Says Not Yet

The UK Guardian has just quoted an Ecuadorian official as announcing that Julian Assange has been granted asylum in Ecuador by president Raphael Correa.

The government of Ecuador wants to help protect Assange’s life and his freedom, believing that if he is extradited to Sweden, he will face the death penalty. He will most likely be arrested if he leaves the embassy, so it is unclear if he will ever actually be able to go to Ecuador.  Both the governments of England and Sweden have not been supportive of Ecuador’s offer to grant asylum.

Correa has said that he will make public his decision after the Olympics. Tuesday night following the Guardian story, Correa communicated on Twitter that, “Rumour of asylum for Assange is false.  There is still no decision on the subject. . .”

An Ecuadorian official stated, “We see Assange’s request as a humanitarian issue. . .  We see in his work a parallel with our struggle for national sovereignty and the democratisation of international relations.”

The Guardian article further speculated that since Correa has been taking legal action against the media in Ecuador, his move to assist Assange might be a political one to show his support of the right to free speech, given that he may seek re-election next year.

Read the Guardian article here.

Assange interviewed Correa a month before he asked for asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.  At the time Assange had been held for 500 days without being charged with any crime.  He asked Correa about the 2010 attempted coup in which he was taken hostage and consequently blamed the coup on corrupt media.  Assange wanted to find out if the expulsion was warranted.

Correa expelled the U.S. ambassador to Ecuador from his country after she refused to comment about statements she made regarding the coup.  Correa said she reported that her Ecuador contacts told her that the chief of the national police was corrupt and that Correa had given him the post knowing this.  Incidentally, Correa obtained this information through Wikileaks.

Correa welcomed Assange to the club of the persecuted and Assange ended the interview by cautioning Correa, “Don’t get assassinated.”

You can listen to a video in which Assange’s views regarding his asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London are aired.  The statement is read in public by Susan Benn, a member of his defense fund, after Assange was asked to surrender himself to London police. He said no because he feels his life and liberty are at peril.  He’s been charged with conspiracy to commit espionage.

He explains his fears of being tortured since Bradley Manning, the source of the information Assange obtained, has been  held 2 years without a trial, in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day for 9 months, stripped naked and awakened every five minutes. Manning was accused of aiding the enemy.

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