The Ecuadorean government announced that it will grant WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange asylum, defying threats from the UK government that authorities would forcibly seize Assange from the embassy if Ecuador granted Assange’s request.
“Today we’ve received a threat by the United Kingdom, a clear and written threat that they could storm our embassy in London if Ecuador refuses to hand in Julian Assange,” Patino, the Ecuadorean Foreign Minister, told reporters.
Ecuador came to its decision after failing to obtain assurances from Sweden that it would not extradite Assange to the U.S. “Ecuador requested some guarantees from Sweden that he wouldn’t be extradited to the U.S., and they rejected any commitment in this sense,” Patino said.
Protestors have been surrounding the embassy since yesterday and the demonstration can be seen live here on Occupy News Network’s UStream.
Mr Assange faces questioning over assault and rape claims, which he denies. He took refuge at the embassy in June to avoid extradition to Sweden. He sought asylum after it became clear he would be further extradited to the U.S. after his trial in Sweden. In U.S. court, he would face political persecution and a military court trial for publishing documents that have angered the U.S. government.
The allegations come from separate sexual relations with two women in Sweden, during August of 2010. One told police Assange pinned her down to have sex with her and intentionally tore a condom he wore. The second woman reported he had sex with her while she was initially asleep, failing to wear a condom despite repeated requests for him to do so. Assange denied any guilt, claiming the sex was consensual in both cases.