Ecuador Grants Asylum to Assange

Posted August 16th, 2012 at 10:55 am (UTC-5)
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Ecuador has granted asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who took refuge in Ecuador's embassy in London nearly two months ago.

Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino announced the decision Thursday in Quito, saying Assange's personal security was at risk. He also said Assange would not receive a fair trial if he is eventually extradited to the U.S.

Britain said it is disappointed in Ecuador's decision, and that it will meet its obligation to extradite Assange to Sweden. He is wanted in Sweden for questioning in connection with sexual assault allegations, but has denied those accusations.

Following the decision, Sweden summoned Ecuador's Stockholm-based ambassador. A Swedish government spokesman said it is “unacceptable” that Ecuador is trying to halt Sweden's judicial process.

Outside the Ecuadorian embassy Thursday, British police tussled with protesters chanting slogans in support of Assange. At least three protesters were arrested.

Ecuadorian officials have accused Britain of threatening to storm Ecuador's embassy to arrest Assange. Britain has warned of using a law that would allow it to revoke the embassy's diplomatic status.

Assange fears Sweden could send him to the United States to face possible charges related to the 2010 release of hundreds of thousands of classified documents, including diplomatic cables held by the U.S. State Department about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.