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.
Border towns show no resistance to troops, meant to force strongman president to step down peacefully after diplomacy failed
The head of Iraq's elite Counter-Terror Service, which has been doing most of the fighting in Mosul, as well as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced Wednesday that the city's east bank had been "liberated".
Interstate Aviation Committee will analyze flight recorders of cargo plane that crashes Monday near Kyrgyz capital
Al-Qaeda linked militant group Al-Mourabitoun claims responsibility for attack on Malian military base
Mexican migrants are scrambling in an effort to reach the US before Trump takes over
The quakes, all measuring more than five magnitude, struck close to Amatrice, the mountain town devastated by an August earthquake that left nearly 300 people dead.
During his campaign, Trump said he would "bomb the shit" out of ISIL and claimed to have a secret plan to quickly defeat the group.
He had avoided home after a warning that Hamas security forces were looking for him due to his role as an organiser of recent protests over severe electricity shortages.
Jammeh's mandate ended at midnight (local and GMT) but he has steadfastly refused to leave office after losing elections last month to Adama Barrow
Dwindling popular support, corruption scandals and rampant in-fighting mean that the contest looks set to be a bitter battle exposing divisions at the heart of the party.
A right wing gathering on Saturday comes ahead of closely-watched votes in key eurozone countries in coming months.
MONUSCO spokesman says no M23 rebels have crossed from Uganda into Congolese territory
'Nowhere has the UN's failure been more consistent, and more outrageous, than its bias against' Israel, Nikki Haley says
All 395 lawmakers participate in vote; bill expected to be approved Friday
"I am noticing a trend here that the smugglers are now using Slovakia," the Kurier daily cited Hans-Peter Doskozil as saying in its online edition.