UK confirms Assange at Ecuador embassy

2012-06-20 11:01

London - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has requested political asylum at Ecuador's embassy in London, where he remains "beyond the reach of the police", the British Foreign Office said on Wednesday.

Assange, aged 40, faces extradition to Sweden on allegations of sexual offenses, after Britain's Supreme Court rejected his final appeal on 14 June. A 10-day period of extradition begins on 28 June.

The Foreign Office in London said Assange was on "diplomatic territory" and that it would work with Ecuador to resolve the situation. Analysts said Assange could be arrested by police if he stepped outside the embassy.

Ecuador on Tuesday confirmed that Assange, an Australian, had sought refuge at it London embassy.

"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," a statement by the Ecuadorian embassy said.

It added: "In order to reach a proper decision in line with international law on Mr Assange's application, the Ecuadorian government will be seeking the views of the governments of the United Kingdom, Sweden and the United States of America."

'Regrettable' move

Assange is wanted for questioning by Swedish authorities over rape and sexual assault allegations made by two women, who said the attacks happened in 2010.

"I don't want to comment these events until I have more knowledge about what has happened," Thomas Olsson, a lawyer representing Assange in Sweden, told Swedish Radio.

Claes Borgstrom, a lawyer representing the two Swedish women, regretted Assange's move.

"It was completely unexpected," Borgstrom said. "But it was in line with how he has acted during the almost two years that have passed, stalling and shifting the focus from what the case is about."

Borgstrom said the delay meant "extra pressure" on his clients.

Australia's acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan said Assange's asylum application was a personal matter.

"Mr Assange will take decisions in his own interests as he sees them," Swan said. "What we will do is provide as much assistance as we can, as is normal for any Australian citizen overseas."

  • Rabble-Rouser - 2012-06-20 11:08

    Does he have something to hide? Why doesn't he clear his name in the Swedish courts?

      Harold - 2012-06-20 11:25

      He doesn't care about Swedish Courts. Swedish and American authorities have already discussed options to have him extradited to the US to face terrorism and espionage charges (based on their new Homeland Security laws). The fact that one of the women accusing was actually on the payroll of the CIA should make this fairly obvious. Besides which, he has never been charged with a crime and is only wanted for 'questioning'. They tried charging him but it was thrown out of court. It is not legal to demand extradition merely for questioning, only to face criminal charges. Take on the American Gestapo machine and they will hunt you down - legally or not.

      Neutedop - 2012-06-20 11:42

      Harold, I do not believe a British Court would extradite him without proof. And I believe they took all other US involvement into account. Did not know about accuser being on payroll. This a fact, or just some bad journalism (Like Hosni Muburak that is dead on the front page of News24 Die Burger?)

      arthur.hugh - 2012-06-20 12:02

      Either way, he's a wanted man. I would have done the same thing to buy more time and think about what my next move would be.

  • Stille - 2012-06-20 11:56

    I see what you did there.......

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