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Ecuador News: Ecuador Grants Assange Asylum, Tensions Escalate

After Ecuador granted Julian Assange political asylum today, I wanted to find out what Ecuadorians here in-country had to say about the escalating tensions between Ecuador and the UK in the case.  Thank goodness for Google and here’s my English version of an article in El Universo:

Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said Thursday that Assange was granted asylum by Ecuador.  This decision was formulated upon 11 points.

The Swedish prosecutor has “a contradictory attitude,” that prevents a legitimate defense for Assange.

Ecuador feels that Assange’s life is in danger if he is extradited to the U.S.

Patino cited the Geneva Convention, the Convention on Diplomatic Asylum, 1954 2312 Declaration of 1967, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the basis for Ecuaador’s decision.  This document grants Ecuador the right to safeguard and protect those seeking political asylum and Assange made such a request.

Patiño said that the statement received from the UK after asylum was granted was a UK offensive attack on Ecuador’s right to decide on this case. He has called a meeting of OAS, the Organization of American States, and UNASUR in order to discuss the situation.

He also stated that he hasn’t received an apology from the UK government for the “offensive” letter.

He read a press release from the UN Security Council which condemned the attack on the headquarters of the British Embassy in Iran and called for diplomatic protection.

The UK response was that they were disappointed with the Ecuador decision to grant political asylum to the founder of Wikileaks.  Assange has been in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June 19, according to Reuters.

In a statement, a spokesman for the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated that, under UK law, after having exhausted all legal means, the UK government is obliged to extradite Assange to Sweden.

Before the announcement of asylum, Britain had informed Ecuador that any request for Julian Assange would be denied.

Read the full article here in Spanish.

Video at London Ecuadorian Embassy

In the above article there’s a link to an almost 1 1/2 hour video sporadically narrated by a London activist, alburyj.  He’s got a thick British accent, so even though it’s in English it may be hard to understand.  While the video is often fuzzy with jerky filming and unclear happenings, you get the flavor of what was actually occurring at the embassy.

Below is my synopsis of the video’s reporting:

We can overlook the quality somewhat because the reporter has been covering the latest Assange asylum developments for 13 hours with no sleep or food, purely to get the word out, to encourage others to speak and give more than mainstream coverage of what’s happening on the street. Good for him.

He says he’s had no word of what’s happening in Ecuador although there is a chat set up to receive information. The video was recorded prior to, during and after an announcement was made that Ecuador would grant Assange asylum, because the narrator speculates that the announcement will be made in Quito, not London.

Despite rain there is an estimated crowd of 1500 peaceful protestors/supporters/media as well as police in the front and side entrance of the Ecuadorian embassy.  A man in a red and white flowered shirt adds his sign to others strung along a metal police barricade.

At minute 6 the narrator comments on a crowd of Spanish-speakers who chant something like, “Hang Off Ecuador,” or it could be, “Hands Off Ecuador.”  Another group chant something about ‘amigo.”

At 11:36 a chat screen posts a message in Spanish, reporting that Assange can stay in the Ecuadorian embassy indefinitely.  More Spanish chanting.

This rally or outpouring seems to be about more than just Julian Assange and Wikileaks.  A  hand-carried sign says, “7 million Iraquis killed, injured, homeless since 2003.”

A man with a deep voice shouts, “Julian!  Freedom-Fighter!” A red sign reads, “Russia to World War 3 in Iraq.”

Then the chat reads, “Ecuador strongly rejects threats from the UK.”

A white van drives by the screen, displaying “Jamal Satellites,” in English and in possibly Hindi or a Middle Eastern script. England certainly isn’t just English any more.

29:15–unconfirmed chats saying asylum was granted. The commentator now says that the question is what the UK authorities will do, will they revoke Ecuador’s embassy  (garbled).   “If that happens it will be quite an extraordinary diplomatic move.  I don’t think the Ecuadorians will take very kindly to it.”

31:40-Assange has been granted asylum.  There was a loud-speaker announcement made and the crowd cheered. Chants–“I go, Ecuador.”

Posters of Assange and Correa.  Speeches made in favor of them and of Ecuadorians and their London embassy.

Commentator: “He’s stuck in the embassy now. If he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy, he will certainly be arrested by British authorities.

“He’s wanted in the UK for breach of his bail conditions. The UK authorities argue that they are obliged to execute under European law.  So at the moment, it’s kind of a stalemate.”The option that the British authorities may have open to them. . . ” (the rest is garbled).

Some are saying that Assange may come out or be smuggled out, but the commentator doubts this option will be exercised.  Commentator:  “A media circus.”

He further says that now Parliament must make a very major diplomatic decision. He believes, based on what he’s heard through the grapevine, that the UK will do nothing for at least 7 days.  They need time to push something through if they do want to annul Ecuador’s embassy status in the UK.  His educated hunch.

See the video here.  It’s at the bottom of the article.

You can join his Twitter feed to receive automatic updates from him.

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2 Comments

  1. barbara Jacobsen says:

    VIVA ECUADOR AN AMAZINGLY BRAVE DAVID STANDING UP AGAINST GOLITH, HISTORY AND THE WORLD WILL PRAISE YOUR COURAGE IN STANDING UP FOR DEMOCRACY AND FREE SPEECH. Way too many times, I have been ashamed to be a “north American” I am now ashmed too be Swedish also Today, I would be proud to say:”Yo soy Ecudorian”

  2. Pingback: UK Threatens to "Assault" Ecuador Embassy in London | Living in Ecuador Blog