News Update :

WikiLeaks founder Assange seeks Ecuador asylum

Monday, June 25, 2012

‘Assange is now beyond the reach of the police’ :
UK: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Wednesday after making a dramatic bid to avoid extradition to Sweden over alleged sex crimes.

The 40-year-old, who last week exhausted all his legal options in Britain, walked into the embassy Tuesday and applied for political asylum, as time ran out in his marathon legal battle to avoid being sent to Sweden.

Quito was examining the request after the latest surprise twist in a case dating back to December 2010, when the Australian former computer hacker was first detained in London on a European arrest warrant issued by Sweden.

Britain's Foreign Office said Assange was now “beyond the reach of the police” as he was on diplomatic territory, but stressed it would seek to work with the Ecuadorian authorities “to resolve this situation as soon as possible”. A police officer entered the embassy and left again after a short time overnight Tuesday. Early Wednesday, around 30 reporters and photographers, and a handful of police officers, were outside the embassy, situated in the upmarket London district of Knightsbridge, near the well-known Harrods department store.

Assange will remain at the embassy under the protection of the Ecuadorian government while his application is considered.

The white-haired Australian confirmed in a statement he was seeking “diplomatic sanctuary and political asylum” and expressed his gratitude to the Ecuadorian government for considering his request.

The embassy said in a statement: “The decision to consider Mr Assange's application for protective asylum should in no way be interpreted as the government of Ecuador interfering in the judicial processes of either the United Kingdom or Sweden.”

It confirmed it would be seeking the views of London, Stockholm and Washington to make sure it complied with international law.

In the Ecuadorian capital Quito, Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino confirmed his government was “examining the request” from Assange.The request for asylum came after Britain's Supreme Court last week rejected an application by Assange to reopen his appeal against extradition.

The decision closed Assange's last legal avenue in Britain, although he could still take his case to the European Court of Human Rights. AFP
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