WikiLeaks Founder inside Ecuadorian Embassy: Seeking Political Asylum
Julian Assange, the founder of WikilLaks who has been embarrassing spy agencies, big governments, diplomats and layers of bureaucracy in quite a few countries for some time, proved once again that he still has the firepower to surprise the world.
With a Tweet, he declared late on Tuesday evening that he is seeking asylum from Ecuador, the Latin American nation which once offered him residence in the country at the height of his legal troubles, while entering its London embassy.
The Twitter account of WikiLeaks which read, "ALERT: Julian Assange has requested political asylum and is under the protection of the Ecuadorian embassy in London," was the first signal of the dramatic twist in the extradition saga that has been dragging on for months in British courts.
Mr Assange, 40, is seeking the asylum on the grounds of being ‘abandoned’ by his native Australian government in his hour of need: in London, the Supreme Court ruled last week that he could be extradited to Sweden to face the charges of rape against him. While sensing that he is at the end of the protracted legal tether, as a last resort, he turned to Ecuadorian embassy, effectively asking for a route to escape.
Since there is an extradition treaty between the US and Ecuador, Mr Assange’s lingering headaches may not be over even if he is granted asylum in Ecuador, as American pressure shows no sign of abating.
Meanwhile, Ricardo Patino, the Ecuadorian foreign minister, admitted that a request has been made by Mr Assange for political asylum through its London embassy. He said the Ecuadorian government is ‘analysing’ and ‘studying’ the request, without divulging further details. He went on to say that the British Foreign Office had been informed about the development.
Mr Assange’s influential friends in Britain see the extradition attempt by Sweden as the first step in the process of handing him over to America to face espionage charges, which could potentially carry the death penalty, if convicted.
However, a significant number of Britons do not agree with that notion: they think that he should be bold enough to face the Swedish courts - in a country with a functioning western democracy where the demarcation lines are well in place between the political sphere and judiciary.
Whatever the outcome of his asylum request, the development is going to cause friction between the British Foreign Office and the Ecuadorian government. It is too early to speculate about Mr Assange’s next move if the request is turned down by Ecuador.
Mr Assange and his inner circle may have a plan ‘B’ in the event of such a failure - which means more surprises in the coming days.
- Asian Tribune –