Wikileaker Julian Assange has been granted political asylum by Ecuador.
The Australian geeklord, who is sheltering in the South American country’s London embassy, was granted asylum out of concern he’d face persecution in the West, Ecuador’s foreign minister Ricardo Patino said this afternoon.
Assange™ faces extradition to Sweden for questioning over allegations of coercion and sexual molestation. He has denied any wrongdoing.
He fled to the embassy in June and sought asylum after the UK Supreme Court ended his legal fight against the extradition.
Contrary to what you might read, the Ecuadorian embassy is not considered Ecuadorian soil. Instead, under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the host state’s police are prevented from entering a guest country’s embassy.
That means the Met and and other UK forces are prevented, by convention, from entering the embassy to arrest Assange for breaking the terms of his bail. He had been arrested under a European warrant and was under orders to stay at his home address until his extradition date.
Assange is therefore safe until he steps foot outside the embassy where he’s been sheltering. Patino said he was “confident” the British government would offer Assange a guarantee of safe passage to Ecuador now that he has been granted asylum. The UK Foreign Office has declined to offer such a guarantee.
Patino reportedly told a press conference that Britain threatened to enter the Ecuadorian embassy if it did not hand over Assange.
The Wikileak supremo has suggested that his arrest is politically motivated and that once in Sweden he would be extradited to the US on charges relating to his whistleblower website, which leaked 250,000 confidential US diplomatic cables in 2010.
Patino said the government of Ecuador had contacted the governments of the UK, Sweden and the US, and had failed to receive guarantees that the legal process in Sweden would operate free from any obstacles. He said the US hadn't guaranteed it would not seek Assange’s extradition to bring charges. ®