World Bulletin / News Desk
Ecuador is likely to announce a decision on whether to grant political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange before the end of the week in a case with diplomatic implications around the world, President Rafael Correa said on Monday.
Assange has been taking refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since June 19 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning on sex crime allegations.
The former computer hacker, who enraged Washington in 2010 when his WikiLeaks website published thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables, says he fears he could be sent to the United States, where he believes his life would be at risk.
"We have to review the process in Sweden," Correa said in a television interview. "We have to look at the possibility that he may be extradited to the United States, that there may be a secret court there, that he may face the death penalty.
"We expect to have a meeting on Wednesday (with Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino) and I hope to make an announcement before the end of the week."
Leftist leader Correa said he sympathizes with Assange but also feels respect for the British legal system and for international law. He said his government already has gathered enough information to take a responsible decision.
Neither 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 WikiLeaks supporters in 2010. Assange says he had consensual sex with the women.
It is not clear how Assange would travel to Ecuador if he is granted asylum. By diplomatic convention,British police cannot enter the embassy without Ecuador's approval. But he has no way of boarding a plane to Ecuador without passing through London and exposing himself to arrest.
Correa last month met with Assange's mother, who traveled to the Andean country to plead for her son's asylum request. Patino also met with former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon, who was appointed to head Assange's legal team.
It is not clear why Assange, an Australian citizen, chose Ecuador but he interviewed Correa online in May and the two exchanged plaudits. The interview showed a shared distaste for U.S. foreign policy and big media outlets.
"Cheer up. Welcome to the club of the persecuted," Correa told Assange at the end of the 25-minute interview.
Like other Latin American presidents, including Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Bolivia's Evo Morales, Correa is a fierce critic of what they see as U.S. imperialism.
Correa expelled the U.S. ambassador in 2011.
International Organization for Migration chief says 'refugees bring a lot of motivation'
Stockholm-based course will 'have both the Swedish perspective, and also Muslim knowledge' says school principal
Shelling comes amid ongoing campaign to wrest war-battered city from ISIL
According to Rami Hamdallah, Israeli PM Netanyahu is only 'trying to buy time'
'The agreement will allow Sudan to build in the future a nuclear plant to generate nuclear energy for peaceful use,' Sudanese electricity ministry says
A US surveillance plane had its transponders turned off during anincident near the Russian border
Britain has granted refugee status to former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed who was imprisoned in 2015 after a trial that drew international criticism
Police have lifted a number of blockades but a number of French regions have resorted to imposing fuel restrictions per vehicle.
Police claim operation to transfer thousands of people will be smooth and gradual
EIB eyes increasing its contributions to projects aimed at mitigating refugee crisis
Ukrainian leader Petro Porochenko and German Chancellor Angela Merkel along with France's Hollande and Russia's Putin also call for an immediate cessation of hostilities in the eastern Ukraine
State Dept. does not support group's desire for semi-autonomous zones in northern Syria
Turkish presidential sources say Erdogan and Merkel agree to revisit thorny issue of anti-terror law reform
Interior Ministry reports a record increase in far-right violence, attacks against asylum centers
Azerbaijani president says 1 million 'have been forced to flee the places they were born' by Armenian actions
It took only 31,000 votes for Alexander Van der Bellen the "lesser evil" to beat far-right Norbert Hofer