News24

10 000 messages back Assange's asylum bid

2012-06-27 11:10

Quito - The Ecuadorian embassies in the United States and Britain have received over 10 000 messages in support of political asylum for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Ecuadorian authorities announced on Tuesday.

"More than 10 000 e-mails have been received at the moment," Ecuador's Minister of Foreign Affairs said in a public statement from Quito.

"Thousands of people asking the Ecuadorian government to accord asylum to Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, sent a steady stream of messages saying why they support him," the statement added.

Quito received a demand for asylum from the Australian national, who took refuge in London's Ecuadorian embassy on 19 June, escaping extradition to Sweden, where he has been charged with two cases of sexual assault.

Assange worries that from Sweden, he will be extradited to the United States to face possible espionage charges, after releasing more than 250 000 American diplomatic cables on the WikiLeaks site.

A letter in favour of the request for asylum was also addressed to Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa by Just Foreign Policy, a US group advocating for civil liberties.

Crime of journalism

Among the signatures on the petition were those of film directors Michael Moore and Oliver Stone, actor Danny Glover and philosopher Noam Chomsky.

Maintaining that Assange's only crime was doing journalism, the authors of the letter denounced what they believe to be an attack on freedom of the press and the public's right to know the truth about American foreign policy.

Correa responded to the call for asylum on Tuesday, saying that Quito must first "analyse the judicial process in Sweden" and that "these things take time. It's not that simple."

That same day, Correa met with his ambassador to Britain, Anna Alban, and Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino to discuss Assange's request.

Correa, a leftist leader critical of Washington, has already expressed sympathy for the WikiLeaks founder and said that his country will not accept instances of "political persecution".