Sunday Jun 24, 201206:54 AM GMT
Ecuador mulls over political asylum request by WikiLeaks’ founder
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Banners supporting WikiLeak's founder Julian Assange and US Army whistleblower Bradley Manning hang on the railings next to a British policeman standing on the steps of the Ecuadorian embassy in central London on June 21, 2012.
Sun Jun 24, 2012 6:24AM
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We could not accept that there may be political prosecution against the ideas expressed by Assange."

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa

Ecuador is mulling over the political asylum request by whistleblower website WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange after he sought refuge at the South American state’s embassy in London.


The Ecuadorian Ambassador to London, Anna Alban left the British capital for the Ecuadorian capital Quito on Saturday to personally brief President Rafael Correa on the situation.

“While in Ecuador, she will be holding a series of meetings with officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before meeting President Correa to personally brief him on Mr. Assange's application for political asylum,'' the embassy said in a statement.

On Thursday, Correa expressed concerns that Assange may face death penalty if extradited to the United States, saying the charges against him could be means of political persecution.

“We could not accept that there may be political prosecution against the ideas expressed by Assange. If he has committed a legal infraction regarding WikiLeaks, those charges should be presented, but it's strange that charges have appeared which are of a totally different nature,” he said.

The 40-year-old Assange went to the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Tuesday to seek asylum in order to avoid extradition to Sweden where he will face sexual assault charges.

It was not immediately clear how Assange had arrived at the embassy. He has been under house arrest in Britain since December 2010.

The Ecuadorian president had backed off the idea of inviting Assange to seek residency in the country in 2010, saying he had broken the US laws.

Assange has maintained his innocence and claims the allegations against him are politically motivated. He says that if he is extradited to Sweden, the authorities there could hand him over to the United States where he could be prosecuted for his role in the leakage of classified documents.

The Australian journalist gained international prominence in 2010 when WikiLeaks began publishing thousands of confidential US diplomatic cables which embarrassed Washington. The website has also published hundreds of thousands of classified US documents relating to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

AO/HN
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