Ecuador Grants Asylum to Assange, Defying Britain
CARACAS, Venezuela — Ecuador forcefully rejected British pressure to announce Thursday that it was granting political asylum to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, who has been holed up for two months in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London trying to avoid extradition to Sweden.
“The government of Ecuador, faithful to its tradition of protecting those who seek refuge in its territory or in its diplomatic missions, has decided to grant diplomatic asylum to Julian Assange,” said Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño, reading from a government communiqué at a news conference in the Ecuadorean capital, Quito. He added, “There are indications to presume that there could be political persecution,” and that Mr. Assange would not get a fair trial in the United States and could face the death penalty there.
The move gives Mr. Assange with protection from British arrest, but only on Ecuadorean territory, leaving him vulnerable if he tries to head to an airport or train.