Ecuadorian president defends Assange

2012-08-26 13:58
Julian Assange making a statement from a balcony of the Equador Embassy in London. (Kirsty Wigglesworth, AP)

Julian Assange making a statement from a balcony of the Equador Embassy in London. (Kirsty Wigglesworth, AP)

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London - Ecuador's President Rafael Correa said the allegations in Sweden against Julian Assange would not be crimes in nearly every other country, in an interview with British newspaper The Sunday Times.

Correa told the broadsheet that the sex crime allegations against the WikiLeaks founder were "not a crime in Latin America" and had played no part in Quito's decision to grant Assange asylum.

He also blasted the British government for its "contradictions" in wanting to extradite Assange to Sweden, when it did not extradite former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet after his 1998 arrest in London on an international arrest warrant issued by Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon - who is now heading Assange's legal team.

"The crimes that Assange is accused of, they would not be crimes in 90 to 95% of the planet," Correa told The Sunday Times.

"Not to use a condom in an act between a couple, this is not a crime in Latin America.

Irrelevant

"But I don't want to get any more into this, this has been irrelevant to the decision taken by Ecuador.

"And we're all in agreement that Julian Assange should go to the Swedish justice system."

Assange, having exhausted all his legal options in Britain to avoid extradition to Sweden, walked into the Ecuadoran embassy on 19 June and claimed asylum.

The 41-year-old Australian fears he would be passed on to the United States, which he enraged by releasing a vast cache of its confidential government files.

With Assange holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague pointed out to Quito an obscure 1987 law under which its police could enter the mission and extract Assange.

Angry

British Prime Minister David Cameron "must be really angry with his foreign minister", Correa said.

"Because, besides the rudeness and the discourtesy, the intolerable threat this was, it was a huge diplomatic blunder."

The 34-member Organisation of American States declared "solidarity and support" for Ecuador on Friday, rejecting "any attempt that might put at risk the inviolability of the premises of diplomatic missions."

Correa added: "Britain supported Augusto Pinochet unconditionally. And they let him go, they didn't extradite him on humanitarian grounds - whereas they want to extradite Julian Assange for not using a condom, for the love of God.

"These are grave contradictions."

- SAPA
Read more on:    wikileaks  |  rafael correa  |  uk  |  sweden  |  espionage
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