Ecuador’s President Defends Asylum Grant For Assange

Posted August 17th, 2012 at 8:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa says the main reason his country has granted asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is that no one could guarantee that Assange would not be extradited to a “third country.”

Assange has been sheltered in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since June. The Australian took refuge there after losing a legal battle to fight extradition to Sweden, which wants to question him in connection with sexual assault allegations which he denies.

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.

President Correa told local journalists in Loja, Ecuador Friday that he does not agree with everything that Assange has done. Mr. Correa also said he feared that Assange would face a possible death penalty if he were prosecuted and convicted in the United States.

Ecuador granted Assange asylum Thursday, prompting Britain to say it would not allow him safe passage out of the country and could even enter the embassy to capture him. Supporters of Assange have set up camp outside the building.

The Organization of American States said Friday that it will hold a meeting of foreign ministers in one week to discuss the standoff.

A spokesperson for WikiLeaks said Assange will appear in front of the embassy Sunday to give a statement.