Assange requests political asylum at Ecuador embassy

Wed, Jun 20, 2012, 01:00

QUITO – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has asked for political asylum at Ecuador’s embassy in London and officials in the South American nation are considering his request, its foreign minister said yesterday.

“Ecuador is studying and analysing the request,” foreign minister Ricardo Patino told reporters in Quito. Mr Assange (40) faces extradition to Sweden for questioning over alleged sex crimes after Britain’s top court said last week it had rejected a legal request to reconsider his case.

The Australian gained international prominence in 2010 when WikiLeaks began releasing secret video footage and thousands of US diplomatic cables, many of them about Iraq and Afghanistan, in the largest leak of classified documents in US history. The decision by Britain’s supreme court ended the self-styled anti-secrecy campaigner’s 18-month legal battle against extradition in the British courts, and now only a possible appeal to the European Court of Human Rights stands in the way of his transfer.

The British court rejected Mr Assange’s argument that a European arrest warrant issued by Swedish prosecutors for his extradition was invalid. Ecuador backed off an idea of inviting Mr Assange to visit the country in late 2010 as President Rafael Correa accused him of breaking the law by releasing US documents.

Mr Assange, who has not been charged with any offences in Sweden, has argued the case is politically motivated because the release of documents on his website angered the US. – (Reuters)