"Ecuador Grants Asylum to Assange, Defying BritainEcuador Grants Asylum to Assange, Defying Britain

16/08/2012 - 16:58 von Aguirre | Report spam
CARACAS, Venezuela — Ecuador announced Thursday that it was granting political asylum to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, who has been holed up for two months in the Ecuadorean embassy in London awaiting the decision.



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Ecuador: President Denies Decision to Grant WikiLeaks Founder Asylum (August 15, 2012)


Britain and Ecuador at Standoff Over Assange’s Bid for Asylum (June 21, 2012)


WikiLeaks Founder Turns to Ecuador for Asylum (June 20, 2012)






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Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, arriving at the Supreme Court in London in February.


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The move leaves Mr. Assange with protection from arrest only on Ecuadorian territory, meaning he could only leave the embassy for Ecuador with British cooperation.

The decision also adds to sharp strains between Ecuador and Britain. Just before the announcement by Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño at a news conference in Quito, President Rafael Correa said: “No one is going to terrorize us!” The night before, Mr. Patiño said that the British authorities had threatened to force their way into the embassy, to which he responded: “We are not a British colony.”

Reading from a government communiqué, Mr. Patiño said: “The government of Ecuador, faithful to its tradition of protecting those who seek refuge in its territory or in its diplomatic missions, has decided to grant diplomatic asylum to Julian Assange.”

He added, “There are indications to presume that there could be political persecution,” and that Mr. Assange would not get a fair trial in the United States and could face the death penalty there.

Mr. Patiño said he hoped Britain would permit Mr. Assange to leave the embassy in London for Ecuador — a request Britain has rejected, saying it has a binding, legal obligation to extradite Mr. Assange to Sweden, where is wanted to face questioning about allegations of sexual misbehavior.

The British Foreign Office said it was disappointed by the Ecuadorean announcement but remained committed to a negotiated outcome to the standoff. Sweden called the decision “unacceptable,” and summoned Ecuador’s ambassador, The Associated Press reported.

Mr. Patiño’s news conference was broadcast live on British television and Mr. Assange watched the announcement as it happened, British news reports said. He told embassy staff: “It is a significant victory for myself, and my people. Things will probably get more stressful now.”

Outside the embassy, a small red-brick apartment block behind Harrods department story in the upscale Knightsbridge neighborhood, a protester with a megaphone provided sporadic updates on the progress of the news conference in Quito. When it became clear that Mr. Assange had won asylum, the response was a muted joy. "It’s great news," said a youth worker, 21, who gave his name only as James. "As long as Britain honors his right to asylum," he added, outlining his hope that the British government would allow Mr. Assange to leave the country without arresting him. If that did not happen, he said, gesturing to the protesters around him, "this will only get bigger." Like many of the protesters, the youth worker said he believed that the allegations of sexual abuse and rape against Mr. Assage were part of a conspiracy to silence Wikileaks. "Textbook character assassination," he said.

Speculation immediately turned to whether, and how, Mr. Assange might seek to escape.

Mr. Patiño said his government had made its decision after the authorities in Britain, Sweden and the United States refused to give guarantees that, if Mr. Assange were extradited to Sweden, he would not then be sent on to America to face other charges.

Those close to Mr. Assange have said one reason he does not want to be sent to Sweden is that he fears being charged with crimes in the United States for the release in 2010 of thousands of secret documents and diplomatic cables relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as to American relations with other governments.

An Ecuadorean official said late Wednesday that the British government had made it clear it would not allow Mr. Assange to leave the country to travel to Ecuador, so even with a grant of asylum or similar protection, he would probably remain stuck in the embassy.

Mr. Assange arrived at the embassy on June 19, seeking to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over accusations that he sexually assaulted two women. Jérémie Zimmerman, a friend who has spoken with him recently, said Mr. Assange had found the narrowing of his horizons hard. “It is quite difficult not to be able to get out in the street for all this time,” he said. “He lived for so many years free, without even a home to limit him. And now he is isolated.”

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William Neuman reported from Caracas, and Maggy Ayala from Quito, Ecuador. John F. Burns, Ravi Somaiya and Alan Cowell contributed reporting from London.

The WikiLeaks founder sleeps on an air mattress in a small office that has been converted to a bedroom, according to accounts of those who have visited him. He has access to a computer and continues to oversee WikiLeaks, his lieutenants have said. Reporters outside the building have seen food being delivered from nearby restaurants.




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Sang Tan/Associated Press

British police officers stood guard outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on Thursday.


Related

Ecuador: President Denies Decision to Grant WikiLeaks Founder Asylum (August 15, 2012)


Britain and Ecuador at Standoff Over Assange’s Bid for Asylum (June 21, 2012)


WikiLeaks Founder Turns to Ecuador for Asylum (June 20, 2012)






Connect With Us on Twitter

Follow @nytimesworld for international breaking news and headlines.

Twitter List: Reporters and Editors
.

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Post a Comment »
Read All Comments (23) »


His presence is a challenge for employees of the embassy. One British government official, citing a conversation with a member of the embassy staff, said that the situation was surreal.

Mr. Assange, who previously lived a nomadic existence staying in the homes of friends, has developed a reputation as a unique houseguest.

Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who ran WikiLeaks with Mr. Assange until the two had a falling-out in 2010, accused Mr. Assange in a memoir of staying for several months, uninvited, and of abusing his cat.

In an interview with The New York Times in early 2011, Mr. Domscheit-Berg added that Mr. Assange had refused to flush the toilet during his entire stay. Mr. Assange has countered that Mr. Domscheit-Berg, and others who have given personal accounts along these lines, are motivated by malice.

A diplomat familiar with Mr. Assange’s situation said that he spent his time in a back room, which gets no direct sunlight. Several weeks ago he had a bad cold and appeared depressed, the source said.

“He can’t get outside to see the sun,” his mother, Christine Assange, said in a recent interview conducted in Quito for BBC Mundo, a BBC Web site. “I’m worried about his health, as I would be for anybody who is having to stay indoors and not get exercise and have sunlight.”

She said some of Mr. Assange’s friends have encouraged him to put on music and dance as a way of getting physical activity and that they had also brought sunlamps.”

Although WikiLeaks has shrunk substantially during the 20 months of Mr. Assange’s legal battle in Britain, losing many of its most skilled computer experts along with several of Mr. Assange’s closest associates in building the organization, it has continued to issue statements about his plight.

On Thursday, ahead of the Ecuadorean decision, it issued a new, unsigned statement describing Britain’s warning that it might suspend the embassy’s immunity as part of an action to arrest Mr. Assange as a “resort to intimidation” and a breach of the Vienna Convention governing diplomatic relations between states.

“We remind the public that these extraordinary actions are being taken to detain a man who has not been charged with any crime in any country,” the statement said. It added: “We further urge the U.K. government to show restraint, and to consider the dire ramifications of any violation of the elementary norms of international law.”

It struck many as odd that Mr. Assange, who shot to fame as a fighter for media freedom, chose Ecuador as a potential refuge. Mr. Correa has presided over a crackdown on journalists there.

But when Mr. Assange arrived at the embassy, he issued a statement saying that Mr. Correa had invited him to seek asylum in Ecuador during an interview for Mr. Assange’s TV show on Russia Today, an English-language cable channel financed by the government of Vladimir V. Putin."
 

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#1 Aguirre
16/08/2012 - 17:16 | Warnen spam
Am Donnerstag, 16. August 2012 16:58:16 UTC+2 schrieb Aguirre:
CARACAS, Venezuela — Ecuador announced Thursday that it was granting political asylum to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, who has been holed up for two months in the Ecuadorean embassy in London awaiting the decision.







Related



Ecuador: President Denies Decision to Grant WikiLeaks Founder Asylum (August 15, 2012)





Britain and Ecuador at Standoff Over Assange’s Bid for Asylum (June 21, 2012)





WikiLeaks Founder Turns to Ecuador for Asylum (June 20, 2012)













Connect With Us on Twitter



Follow @nytimesworld for international breaking news and headlines.



Twitter List: Reporters and Editors

.





Enlarge This Image



Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press



Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, arriving at the Supreme Court in London in February.





Readers’ Comments





Share your thoughts.

Post a Comment »

Read All Comments (23) »





The move leaves Mr. Assange with protection from arrest only on Ecuadorian territory, meaning he could only leave the embassy for Ecuador with British cooperation.



The decision also adds to sharp strains between Ecuador and Britain. Just before the announcement by Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño at a news conference in Quito, President Rafael Correa said: “No one is going to terrorize us!” The night before, Mr. Patiño said that the British authorities had threatened to force their way into the embassy, to which he responded: “We are not a British colony.”



Reading from a government communiqué, Mr. Patiño said: “The government of Ecuador, faithful to its tradition of protecting those who seek refuge in its territory or in its diplomatic missions, has decided to grant diplomatic asylum to Julian Assange.”



He added, “There are indications to presume that there could be political persecution,” and that Mr. Assange would not get a fair trial in the United States and could face the death penalty there.



Mr. Patiño said he hoped Britain would permit Mr. Assange to leave the embassy in London for Ecuador — a request Britain has rejected, saying it has a binding, legal obligation to extradite Mr. Assange to Sweden, where is wanted to face questioning about allegations of sexual misbehavior.



The British Foreign Office said it was disappointed by the Ecuadorean announcement but remained committed to a negotiated outcome to the standoff. Sweden called the decision “unacceptable,” and summoned Ecuador’s ambassador, The Associated Press reported.



Mr. Patiño’s news conference was broadcast live on British television and Mr. Assange watched the announcement as it happened, British news reports said. He told embassy staff: “It is a significant victory for myself, and my people. Things will probably get more stressful now.”



Outside the embassy, a small red-brick apartment block behind Harrods department story in the upscale Knightsbridge neighborhood, a protester with a megaphone provided sporadic updates on the progress of the news conference in Quito. When it became clear that Mr. Assange had won asylum, the response was a muted joy. "It’s great news," said a youth worker, 21, who gave his name only as James. "As long as Britain honors his right to asylum," he added, outlining his hope that the British government would allow Mr. Assange to leave the country without arresting him. If that did not happen, he said, gesturing to the protesters around him, "this will only get bigger." Like many of the protesters, the youth worker said he believed that the allegations of sexual abuse and rape against Mr. Assage were part of a conspiracy to silence Wikileaks. "Textbook character assassination," he said.



Speculation immediately turned to whether, and how, Mr. Assange might seek to escape.



Mr. Patiño said his government had made its decision after the authorities in Britain, Sweden and the United States refused to give guarantees that, if Mr. Assange were extradited to Sweden, he would not then be sent on to America to face other charges.



Those close to Mr. Assange have said one reason he does not want to be sent to Sweden is that he fears being charged with crimes in the United States for the release in 2010 of thousands of secret documents and diplomatic cables relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as to American relations with other governments.



An Ecuadorean official said late Wednesday that the British government had made it clear it would not allow Mr. Assange to leave the country to travel to Ecuador, so even with a grant of asylum or similar protection, he would probably remain stuck in the embassy.



Mr. Assange arrived at the embassy on June 19, seeking to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over accusations that he sexually assaulted two women. Jérémie Zimmerman, a friend who has spoken with him recently, said Mr. Assange had found the narrowing of his horizons hard. “It is quite difficult not to be able to get out in the street for all this time,” he said. “He lived for so many years free, without even a home to limit him. And now he is isolated.”



1

2

Next Page »



William Neuman reported from Caracas, and Maggy Ayala from Quito, Ecuador. John F. Burns, Ravi Somaiya and Alan Cowell contributed reporting from London.



The WikiLeaks founder sleeps on an air mattress in a small office that has been converted to a bedroom, according to accounts of those who have visited him. He has access to a computer and continues to oversee WikiLeaks, his lieutenants have said. Reporters outside the building have seen food being delivered from nearby restaurants.









Enlarge This Image



Sang Tan/Associated Press



British police officers stood guard outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on Thursday.





Related



Ecuador: President Denies Decision to Grant WikiLeaks Founder Asylum (August 15, 2012)





Britain and Ecuador at Standoff Over Assange’s Bid for Asylum (June 21, 2012)





WikiLeaks Founder Turns to Ecuador for Asylum (June 20, 2012)













Connect With Us on Twitter



Follow @nytimesworld for international breaking news and headlines.



Twitter List: Reporters and Editors

.



Readers’ Comments





Share your thoughts.

Post a Comment »

Read All Comments (23) »





His presence is a challenge for employees of the embassy. One British government official, citing a conversation with a member of the embassy staff, said that the situation was surreal.





Mr. Assange, who previously lived a nomadic existence staying in the homes of friends, has developed a reputation as a unique houseguest.



Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who ran WikiLeaks with Mr. Assange until the two had a falling-out in 2010, accused Mr. Assange in a memoir of staying for several months, uninvited, and of abusing his cat.



Oh my god.
Who the fuck is Mr Daniel Domscheit?
Ein bezahlter Zukurzgekommener?



In an interview with The New York Times in early 2011, Mr. Domscheit-Berg added that Mr. Assange had refused to flush the toilet during his entire stay. Mr. Assange has countered that Mr. Domscheit-Berg, and others who have given personal accounts along these lines, are motivated by malice.



Auch das noch.
Also ihr Sackgassenmenschen und Untergeher macht doch vor nichts halt.
Das erinnert mich an die Gepflogenheiten in diesem Forum.



A diplomat familiar with Mr. Assange’s situation said that he spent his time in a back room, which gets no direct sunlight. Several weeks ago he had a bad cold and appeared depressed, the source said.



“He can’t get outside to see the sun,” his mother, Christine Assange, said in a recent interview conducted in Quito for BBC Mundo, a BBC Web site. “I’m worried about his health, as I would be for anybody who is having to stay indoors and not get exercise and have sunlight.”



She said some of Mr. Assange’s friends have encouraged him to put on music and dance as a way of getting physical activity and that they had also brought sunlamps.”



Although WikiLeaks has shrunk substantially during the 20 months of Mr. Assange’s legal battle in Britain, losing many of its most skilled computer experts along with several of Mr. Assange’s closest associates in building the organization, it has continued to issue statements about his plight.



On Thursday, ahead of the Ecuadorean decision, it issued a new, unsigned statement describing Britain’s warning that it might suspend the embassy’s immunity as part of an action to arrest Mr. Assange as a “resort to intimidation” and a breach of the Vienna Convention governing diplomatic relations between states.



“We remind the public that these extraordinary actions are being taken to detain a man who has not been charged with any crime in any country,” the statement said. It added: “We further urge the U.K. government to show restraint, and to consider the dire ramifications of any violation of the elementary norms of international law.”



It struck many as odd that Mr. Assange, who shot to fame as a fighter for media freedom, chose Ecuador as a potential refuge. Mr. Correa has presided over a crackdown on journalists there.



But when Mr. Assange arrived at the embassy, he issued a statement saying that Mr. Correa had invited him to seek asylum in Ecuador during an interview for Mr. Assange’s TV show on Russia Today, an English-language cable channel financed by the government of Vladimir V. Putin."

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