South American country considering application, but police say he has breached bail conditions
Julian Assange is seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, following his latest bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where police want to question him over alleged sex crimes. Police have since said that he faces arrest for breaching his bail conditions.
Last week, the UK’s Supreme Court dismissed the Wikileaks founder’s attempt to reopen his appeal, with seven judges unanimously labelling it “without merit.”
The failed bid meant that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) was his last hope to avoid being sent to Sweden.
“This afternoon Mr Julian Assange arrived at the Ecuadorian Embassy seeking political asylum from the Ecuadorian government,” said the Ecuadorian embassy in a statement. “As a signatory to the United Nations Universal Declaration for Human Rights, with an obligation to review all applications for asylum, we have immediately passed his application on to the relevant department in Quito.”
“While the department assesses Mr Assange’s application, Mr Assange will remain at the embassy, under the protection of the Ecuadorian Government,” it continued. “The decision to consider Mr Assange’s application for protective asylum should in no way be interpreted as the Government of Ecuador interfering in the judicial processes of either the United Kingdom or Sweden.”
Assange was briefly offered Ecuadorian residency by the country’s deputy minister in order to freely present the information that he had, however this was revoked by President Rafael Correa, who said he had not approved it.
The UK Foreign Office has said that since Assange was in the embassy, he was beyond the reach of the police and that it would work with Ecuador to resolve the situation. Assange spent Tuesday night at the embassy and now faces arrest for breaching his bail conditions which include staying at his bail address between 2200 and 0800.
Swedish prosectors want to speak to Assange over allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two former Wikileaks volunteers in 2010 when he was in Stockholm to deliver a lecture. No charges have been made and Assange denies the claims.
Assange was first arrested on a visit to Britain in December 2010, where courts have decided to extradite him three times and he has appealed three times. He fears that if he is extradited to Sweden, he may be sent to the US to face charges over Wiklieaks, which has released documents that have embarrassed several governments, and could face the death penalty.
“It is extremely unfortunate that Mr Assange has felt the need to take this step,” said Ed Geraghty, foreign policy spokesman for the UK Pirate Party. “Assange has maintained that this extradition is politically motivated and it would appear he feels that the Australian government is unable or unwilling to provide him with the support he needs.”
“No matter what happens with Assange, it is important to remember that Wikileaks is far bigger than any one person and that their increasingly important work must go on.”
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