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.
Kindergarten has turned into orphanage after becoming home to tens of children who lost one or both parents in Syria's civil war
Some 10,000 Somali refugees living in eastern Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp are expected to be repatriated within six months
Human rights groups send open letter to president over prosecution of father accusing soldiers of shooting 14-year-old
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said reports that Saudi Arabia had called certain Hamas officials to voice its displeasure with the visit were unfounded
Parliament urged the government to expedite the process of tabling electoral reforms as lack of quorum derails debates.
28,000 soldiers will be used to secure polling stations while another 8,000 will be deployed for emergency reaction.
Twin bombs in Yemen's western city of Al-Hudaydah resulted in the death of an unconfirmed amount of people and scores were of people were injured.
Conviction against Huugjilt, 18, overturned almost 2 decades after execution for crime which serial rapist confessed to in 2005.
The Egyptian army said Thursday that it had killed nine "terrorists" and arrested 12 others within the past two days in the northeastern Sinai Peninsula.
Some Jewish organizations had called on settlers to storm the Al-Aqsa compound, especially on Sunday and Monday, according to the Palestinian NGO.
The United Nations launched its biggest ever humanitarian appeal for Syria on Thursday, seeking $8.4 billion after only securing about half the funding it asked for in 2014.
The union said that cabinet ministers in the Palestinian unity government had promised the cleaners that it would work on resolving their grievances within the next two weeks
Bosnia lifts visa requirements for citizens of 10 countries, bringing total number to 72.
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini urged Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to radically change his attitude to the rest of the world and be more cooperative.
European Union has 'shot itself in the foot' by isolating Palestinian group, says analyst.
Cheyney's fiscal problems - students who are unable to repay debt and increasing pension costs - were exacerbated by cutbacks in state higher education funding.