WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, has been holed up in the Embassy of Ecuador in London since June 19, 2012. As we reported earlier, on the morning of August 16, 2012, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño announced that his country would grant diplomatic asylum to the creator of WikiLeaks. Ecuador has based its decision on 11 considerations.
Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that the United Kingdom will not grant a safe passage for Assange to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy, and stressed that the UK's legal obligation “is to extradite him to Sweden”, as reported by the BBC [es].
Assange is wanted by the Swedish authorities for two alleged sex crimes in 2010. In December of the same year, Assange was arrested by the British police on a warrant issued by Sweden. On December 16, 2010 he was granted a conditional bail that would keep him from leaving the country.
As Renata Avila explained for Global Voices Advocacy:
Assange was facing imminent extradition to Sweden for interrogation about sexual allegations he has not been charged for, where he would have been detained upon arrival in solitary with no right to bail, according to Fair Trials International. At the last minute he decided to exercise his right of seeking asylum. He walked into the Embassy of Ecuador and has stayed under diplomatic protection while the country's President Rafael Correa reviewed his case.
Efren Guerrero of the Aura Neurotica [es] blog wrote about the case before the announcement of the decision to grant asylum to Assange. Efren explained Ecuador's two options if asylum was granted:
a. Dejar de manera indefinida al asilado en al embajada en Londres, o b. Transportarlo a territorio ecuatoriano. En el segundo caso hay la necesidad de un salvoconducto, que como han indicado las autoridades inglesas, no se va a dar.
La Corte Internacional de Justicia subrayó en varios fallos que “la seguridad que surge del asilo no puede ser interpretada como una protección contra la aplicación regular de las leyes y contra la jurisdicción de los tribunales legalmente constituidos “.
The International Court of Justice stated in several rulings that “the security that comes of asylum can not be interpreted as a protection against the regular application of laws and against the jurisdiction of legally constituted tribunals.”
Twitter reactions on the part of Ecuadorians have been mixed. For example, Mauricio Rodriguez (@maurisec) [es] opined:
@irodriguezmori [es]: Rebuscar leyes internacionales para otorgar asilo o velar por los derechos de una persona que no lo merece. Ese es mi Ecuador.
Referring to freedom of expression in the country, Jorge Gonzalez (@clever_george) [es] writes:
Journalist Xavier Reyes (@xavivire) [es] asks from Quito:
Similarly, journalist Marce Riera (@marceriera) [es] asks:
However, on the same subject, Carlos Wiilkapy (@ve_to) [es] tweets:
Various Twitter users defended the decision of the government, like Chelo Moreira (@moreirachelo) [es]:
Others, like @oscgamb [es], celebrated:
The newspaper El Comercio [es] reports that Assange's mother, Christine Assange, thanked Ecuador for granting asylum, “but is concerned about the fate of her son.”
Ecuador has called for urgent meetings [es] with the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) and the Organization of American States (OAS) to discuss Assange's case.