World Bulletin / News Desk
Ecuador has granted political asylum to WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange, Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said on Thursday, a day after the British government threatened to storm the Ecuadorean embassy in London to arrest Assange.
Britain has said it is determined to extradite the former computer hacker, who enraged Washington in 2010 when his WikiLeaks website published secret U.S. diplomatic cables, to Sweden where he has been accused of rape and sexual assault.
"Ecuador has decided to grant political asylum to Julian Assange following the request sent to the President," Patino told a press conference in Quito.
He argued that Assange's personal security was at risk, extradition to a third country without proper guarantees was probable, and legal evidence showed he would not have a fair trial if eventually transferred to the United States.
"This is a sovereign decision protected by international law. It makes no sense to surmise that this implies a breaking of relations (with Britain)," Patino added.
Even with asylum granted, Assange has little chance of leaving the Ecuadorean embassy in London without being arrested.
There has been speculation he could travel to an airport in a diplomatic car, be smuggled out in a diplomatic bag, or even be appointed an Ecuadorean diplomat to give him immunity.
But lawyers and diplomats see those scenarios as practically unworkable.
Ecuador's President Rafael Correa is a self-declared enemy of "corrupt" media and U.S. "imperialism," and part of a left-leaning block of South American leaders.
He apparently hit it off with Assange during a TV interview the Australian did with him in May. Correa joked then with Assange that he had joined "the club of the persecuted".
Foreign minister Patino called the U.K. government's threat to enter the embassy "brutal," and acknowledged the only way Assange could travel to Ecuador would be if Britain grants him a safe pass to travel to an airport.
Data show estimated net migration numbers reached a record 336,000 as of June 2015
Buhari, who came to power in May, has made crushing the six-year rebellion a priority and in August gave his military commanders until the year-end to defeat the extremists
'The god whom we seek to serve is a god of peace. His holy name must never be used to justify hatred and violence,' Pope Francis says
Sacking of French Muslim social worker for wearing religious garb did not violate freedom-of-religion law, says court
The toll is 18 dead, 11 hurt, almost 100 homes burned down in the village of Wogom
'We still have not heard any articulate apologies from Turkey's highest political level nor any proposals to compensate for the harm and damage,' says Russian president
Francois Hollande and Matteo Renzi also discuss fight against ISIL and the situation in Libya
At least 277 people have been killed in Burundi since the outbreak of the political and security crisis in April 2015, the UN has said in a statement
Cameron said that it was in Britain's national security interests to strike ISIL extremists and deny them a 'safe haven' in Syria
South Africa has agreed to enforce a Turkish court’s warrants for four ex-Israeli military commanders involved in the 2010 deadly Mavi Marmara attack, police say
Economic penalties also target businessman representing Assad regime 'business and financial interests in Russia,' says Treasury Dept.
Russia is continuing its retaliation to the downing of the Russian jet with reports claiming that Russian customs turning back Turkish travellers
The Western Balkans is at the heart of battle against terrorism, radicalization, says European Council president
'What's most important for Canada is that we continue to be a strong player within the coalition against ISIL, also in terms of military engagement,' PM Trudeau says
The United Arab Emirates has secretly dispatched hundreds of Colombian mercenaries to Yemen to fight in that country’s raging conflict, adding a volatile new element in a complex proxy war that has drawn in the United States and Iran.
President Mustafa Akinci says more progress made in last five months than previous 47 years