World Bulletin / News Desk
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has hired Spanish jurist Baltasar Garzon as a legal adviser as he seeks political asylum in Ecuador, the Andean country's foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, said on Tuesday.
Assange has been taking refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since June 19. The Australian anti-secrecy campaigner, who enraged Washington in 2010 when his WikiLeaks website published secret U.S. diplomatic cables, is wanted for questioning in Sweden over sex crime allegations.
Assange broke his bail terms and requested asylum in Ecuador. He denies any wrongdoing in Sweden and says he fears that if extradited there, he could be sent on to the United States, where he believes he could face criminal charges punishable by death.
The Ecuadorean government has said it will take as long as needed to make a thorough analysis of Assange's asylum application before making a decision.
"Mr. Assange has requested the services of lawyer Baltasar Garzon to deal with his case. ... Of course he has the right to hire and look for the legal advice that he needs or may need for the asylum request," Patino told reporters in Quito.
Human rights investigator Garzon is best known for ordering the arrest of former Chilean military leader Augusto Pinochet in 1998.
For three decades, Garzon has made a career of tackling the most complex and controversial of cases, winning notoriety as well as a clutch of powerful enemies in Spain's ruling class. Politicians across the spectrum have been implicated or targeted in his investigations over the years.
He also stirred up controversy with an attempt to order an investigation into the killing of tens of thousands of civilians during the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, who died in 1975.
Patino said he welcomed Garzon's involvement in the Assange case because the Ecuadorean government had "a very good relationship" with the jurist. Garzon is part of an international panel that was set up to oversee the ongoing judicial overhaul in the OPEC-member country.
Neither the U.S. nor Swedish authorities have charged Assange with anything. Swedish prosecutors want to question him about allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two former WikiLeaks volunteers in 2010.
Attack comes day after 36 people are killed by twin car bombings in Iraq's southern city of Al-Samawah
We agreed the G7 should send a strong signal in this sense,' Japanese PM says after talks with his Italian counterpart
'France forcefully condemns the (Damascus) regime's attacks that have caused many casualties (and) calls on the supporters of the regime... to use their influence on Damascus to silence the weapons,' foreign ministry says
Khartoum has stepped up its claim to the territories after Egypt transferred two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia
European Commission says Ankara has made 'a lot of efforts' for the EU visa liberalisation
Three Boko Haram militants were killed and nine captured in operations in NE Borno State
Russia's Lavrov to meet UN Syria envoy in Moscow Tuesday
Investors to attend two-day conference in Sarajevo from Wednesday
The evacuation has passed off largely without incident, authorities say
Sudan’s Constitutional Court on Sunday has ordered to allow Al-Tayyar newspaper to resume publishing following more than four-month suspension by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).
Thousands of supporters of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have held a sit-in inside Baghdad’s Green Zone after storming parliament on Saturday
'Now, with the new phenomenon of [ISIL], this is going to challenge us for years to come,' John Brennan says
Palestinian flag has been banned from Eurovision Song Contest Stockholm 2016
'Two car bombs went off in town. The first one was at around midday near a bus station in the city centre,' according to police
Supporters of firebrand Shia cleric demand government of ‘technocrats’ untainted by corruption, sectarianism
Order comes day after supporters of Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr stormed Baghdad’s Green Zone and temporarily occupied parliament building