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WikiLeaks' Assange granted asylum in Ecuador

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 17th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Daring to share confidential information in the Internet age, WikiLeak's mastermind Julian Assange has finally been granted asylum in Ecuador. Assange had previously been hiding in the Ecuadoran embassy in London since June. Great Britain has since vowed to extradite Assange to Sweden in order to face sex crime charges.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The world community continues to bark at Assange's heels. Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiņo says that there is true concern that if Assange is sent to Sweden, he could be subsequently be extradited to the United States, where he then could be charged with espionage and treason.

"The Ecuadorian government, after carrying out a fair and objective analysis of the situation presented by Mr. Assange and evaluating his oral and written arguments, has decided that there's cause to presume that he could be the target of political persecution or that such persecution could happen if no timely and necessary measures are taken to prevent it," Patiņo said.

Ecuador asked Britain to guarantee safe passage for Assange and to respect its decision. U.K. officials said it was disappointed by the decision and will continue to pursue Assange's arrest and extradition.

"We shall carry out that obligation. The Ecuadorian government's decision this afternoon does not change that," the U.K. Foreign Office said in a statement.

"I am grateful to the Ecuadorian people, President Rafael Correa and his government. It was not Britain or my home country, Australia, that stood up to protect me from persecution, but a courageous, independent Latin American nation," Assange said from the embassy.

A tug of war between the two nations continues. Patiņo has warned against any British action against Ecuador's embassy in London, saying the Ecuadorian government had received a written notice from British authorities that they would "assault" the country's embassy in London if they fail to hand over Assange.

The British say one of their laws allows for the country to enter the embassy and arrest Assange. In reaction, Patiņo cited a lengthy list of international treaties and conventions that he said make it clear that it is illegal to enter another country's embassy.

Ecuador has found that Assange has a credible fear of persecution for his ideas and politics.

"There are strong indications of retaliation by the country or countries who produced the information divulged by Mr. Assange, reprisals that could put at risk his security, integrity and even his life," the Ecuadorian government concluded.

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