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Sat Aug 18, 2012 3:52AM
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

The Organization of American States (OAS) has called a meeting of foreign ministers to discuss the diplomatic standoff between Ecuador and Britain over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. On Friday, twenty-three members of the organization voted for the resolution, which was presented by Ecuador to convene the meeting at its Washington headquarters on August 24 to talk about the standoff, while the United States, Canada and Trinidad and Tobago voted against the move. In an attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden, Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on June 19 and applied for political asylum. Assange had embarked on a marathon round of court battles but finally exhausted all his options under British law in June when the Supreme Court rejected his appeal against extradition. On Thursday, Ecuador granted political asylum to Assange, triggering a diplomatic row with London, which vowed to arrest him the moment he stepped out of the sanctuary, and insisted it would still move to extradite him. Earlier on Friday, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said that Britain had threatened to storm Quito's Embassy in London to seize Assange. "A couple of days ago we received... the threat, not even a veiled threat but explicit and in writing, that they could come into our embassy under their domestic laws." Ecuador wants the 35-member body to discuss Britain's threat to storm the embassy. The WikiLeaks founder was accused of committing rape and other sexual crimes in Sweden after the whistleblower made US “secret” and “top secret” documents publicly available on the website, despite intense efforts by US officials to stop him. Assange has maintained that he is innocent 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 leaking classified documents. Assange gained international prominence in 2010 when WikiLeaks began publishing thousands of confidential US diplomatic cables, which embarrassed the government. The website has also published hundreds of thousands of classified US documents relating to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. GJH/MA
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