Thursday, 16 August 2012
Ecuador has granted asylum to Julian Assange
Ecuador has granted asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange two months after he took refuge in its London embassy while fighting extradition from the UK. It said there were fears Mr Assange's human rights may be violated. Foreign minister Ricardo Patino accused the UK of making an "open threat" to enter its embassy to arrest Mr Assange. Mr Assange took refuge at the embassy in June to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces questioning over assault and rape claims, which he denies.
Announcing Ecuador's decision, Mr Patino said the country believed Mr Assange's fears of political persecution were "legitimate". He said the country was being loyal to its "tradition" of protecting those who are vulnerable. "We trust that our friendship with the United Kingdom will remain intact," he added.
Outside Ecuador's embassy in London, the BBC's James Robbins said news was slowly spreading through Mr Assange's assembled supporters. Our correspondent said they were delighted, but the UK government is insisting it changes nothing. They will still seek to arrest him and they will not grant him safe passage. If he steps out, he will be arrested.