Ecuador has granted political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The decision comes almost two months after the world-famous whistleblower came to the country’s embassy in London seeking protection.
“We have decided to grant political asylum to Mr. Assange,” said Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino. “We believe that his fears are legitimate and there are the threats that he could face political persecution.”
The announcement was met with celebrations outside the Ecuadorian embassy as the WikiLeaks founder’s supporters began chanting “Hands off Ecuador” and “Assange freedom fighter.”
Patino admitted that Julian Assange’s rights are endangered, as he is at high risk of extradition from Sweden to the US. Moreover, Assange’s home country will not provide him with adequate legal protection, he said.
“We think [Assange’s] extradition is viable to a country outside the EU,” Patino said at a press conference at the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry. “Judicial evidence clearly demonstrates that given an extradition to the US, Mr. Assange would not have a fair trial, he could be judged by special or military courts, and it is not unlikely to believe he would be treated in a cruel and degrading way, that he would receive a life sentence or death penalty, with which his human rights would not be respected.”
”Ecuador has confirmed Assange does not have enough protection from Australia where he holds citizenship,” Patino said.
Patino also reiterated Ecuador’s offer to allow Sweden to interview Assange in their embassy in London, which wasturned down.
“We trust that that the UK will offer as soon as possible the guarantee for the safe passage of asylum for Mr Assange and they will respect those international agreements they have signed in the past,” he concluded.
Watch Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino’s full statement