Ecuador Says WikiLeaks’ Assange Seeks Asylum
WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange is seeking asylum in Ecuador after arriving at the South American nation’s embassy in London, Ecuador’s foreign minister said on Tuesday, a move that may help the self-styled anti-secrecy crusader avoid extradition to Sweden.
The 40-year-old Australian hacker famous for leaking hundreds of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables has been fighting to avoid being sent to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning over sex crimes.
The situation threatens to inflame tensions between the government of Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s leftist and ardently anti-Washington president, and U.S. authorities who accuse Assange of damaging its foreign relations and blowing the cover of diplomatic sources.
“Ecuador is studying and analyzing the request,” Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino told reporters in Quito. He added that any decision would be made with “respect for norms and principles of international law.”
The Andean nation in 2010 invited Assange to seek residency there but quickly backed off the idea, accusing him of breaking U.S. laws.
Since his detention, Assange has mostly been living under strict bail conditions at the country mansion of a wealthy supporter in eastern England. His associates say that amounts to 540 days under house arrest without charge.
It was not clear how he had arrived at the Ecuadorean embassy in the affluent Knightsbridge area of London.