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.
Ismael Mohammed Shosi was suspected of killing National Intelligence Service officer in Mombasa in July 2015
Last month, the Tobruk-based parliament refused to give confidence to the UN-backed unity government
Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi ordered and participated in destruction of ancient mausoleums in Timbuktu, court says
16 security personnel, 14 militiamen and 6 civilians have been killed so far in clashes
Iraqi authorities blame the violence on the ISIL extremist group
No-one was injured in the blasts late Monday in a city which has become a hotspot for far-right protests amid Germany's huge migrant influx.
Asked if Britain could veto the plans while it still remains a member of the European Union ahead of Brexit, Fallon said: "There is no majority here for a EU army."
The Prosecution of Bosnia-Herzegovina has summoned RS President Milorad Dodik for the banned referendum on Sunday
Ammunition depot and shelters in Qandil Mountains hit, 'several terrorists killed', according to military source
THE Italian government today announced the controversial referendum on constitutional reform which could shape the future of the EU is set for December 4.
Latino, Muslim voters share their thoughts on first presidential debate
A former Romanian ex-minister will step down from parliament after being involved in a number of scandals, including the death of a police motorcyclist
Danish nationalist party leader encourages 'asylum spray' as self-defense against refugees
Energy Minister Albayrak warns of aging Metsamor nuclear power plant near Turkish border at IAEA conference
ISIL labs in Iraq, Syria making mustard sulfur loaded bombs, Pentagon says
More than 86 percent vote in favor of increasing presidential term