UK: Julian Assange: Ecuador ‘quite supportive’ of asylum bid-Telegraph

June 24, 2012

The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange today said that he was ready for a life in Ecuador and that the country was “quite supportive” of his bid for asylum.

Richard Alleyne, and Martin Beckford

The Telegraph: June 22, 2012

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/ecuador/9348494/Julian-Assange-Ecuador-quite-supportive-of-asylum-bid.html

 Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange holds a placard with the slogan “Ecuador, country of freedom” written in Spanish outside the Ecuadorian embassy in central London [Agence France-Presse]

Mr Assange has taken refuge in the Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he has sought asylum in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning on sexual assault charge.

He fears that if sent to Sweden, he would then be extradited to the United States where he believes he could face criminal charges punishable by death.

Mr Assange said he was concerned it was ploy to allow him to be extradited to the United States to face possible charges related to the WikiLeaks website, which published thousands of leaked US diplomatic cables in 2010.

“The Ecuadorean people have been quite supportive,” he said in an telephone interview with ABC Radio Australia.

“I heard (the) Ecuadorean Ambassador in Australia has been making supportive comments. They are sympathetic over a long period of time.

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“We hope the asylum application will be viewed favourably. Now it’s is a matter of gathering extensive evidence of what is happening in the US and submitting that with a formal request.”

He said he had no indication of when Ecuador would decide on his asylum claim, and said his move was aimed at raising awareness of US moves to prosecute him over the 2010 leaks.

The Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said his government plans to do a very thorough analysis of Assange’s application before making a decision.

“We could not allow that a person who has asked for asylum may have to face the death penalty, especially for political crimes,” he said.

“We could not accept that there may not have been due process, we could not accept that there may be political prosecution against the ideas expressed by Assange,” said Correa, as he listed the reasons why Ecuador may decide to grant asylum to Assange.

He said he was not running away from questioning over sexual assault allegations in Sweden, but said the Swedish prosecutors had refused to visit him in Britain or contact him by phone.

“This issue is about a very serious matter in the United States,” he said, adding Swedish authorities said he would be detained on arrival in Sweden.

Mr Assange said his case was currently before a U.S. grand jury, which would decide whether charges could be laid. He said U.S. authorities have been careful not to confirm or deny any grand jury investigation.

Meanwhile Jemima Khan has called for Julian Assange to answer the sex crime allegations.

The daughter of the billionaire Sir James Goldsmith and former wife of the cricketer Imran Khan was among those who put up a total of £240,000 bail for the WikiLeaks founder. Mr Assange’s supporters risk losing their money after he spent two nights in the embassy in Knightsbridge, central London.

But while some have likened him to Chinese dissidents and praised his attempt to claim political asylum from Ecuador, Miss Khan said his alleged victims deserved justice too and that he should respond to the allegations.

Writing on Twitter last night, she said: “For the record, in response to those asking about Assange & bail money …

“I personally would like to see Assange confront the rape allegations in Sweden and the two women at the centre have a right to a response.”

She also highlighted Mr Assange’s concerns that because his whistle-blowing website published thousands of sensitive US diplomatic cables and military files, he faces further extradition to America.

She wrote: “BUT there is no doubt that Assange has a real fear of being extradited to the US nor that the US gov is out to get WikiLeaks.”

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