South American Countries Back Ecuador’s Asylum for Assange

Posted August 19th, 2012 at 8:10 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

South American foreign ministers are backing Ecuador and its decision to grant asylum to embattled WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at its London embassy.

The ministers of the 12 countries forming the Union of South American Nations issued a statement Sunday expressing solidarity with Ecuador. The ministers reaffirmed the rights of nations to grant asylum without facing threats from other countries.

Assange greeted supporters from the balcony of Ecuador's London embassy on Sunday, accusing the United States of conducting a “witch hunt” and threatening journalists.

Assange's Internet website, WikiLeaks, published hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. documents in 2010. U.S. officials say the information could endanger the lives of American soldiers in Afghanistan.

Swedish authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Assange for alleged sexual misconduct. He has taken refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy. British police have surrounded the embassy, ready to arrest Assange, if he leaves the grounds, and extradite him to Sweden.

Assange says he fears Sweden would allow his extradition to the United States.

“As WikiLeaks stands under threat, so does the freedom of expression and the health of all of our societies,'' he said.

Ecuadorian President Raphael Correa says he granted Assange asylum last week to prevent him from being extradited to the United States.