WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange's Fate Hangs in a Balance; Ecuador Delays Asylum Decision for a Week
By Erik Pineda | August 14, 2012 3:10 PM EST
Julian Assange's asylum application to Ecuador will be known within the current week following reports that the Latin nation's president has indicated of an imminent decision on the plea of the WikiLeaks founder.
"I hope to make an announcement before the end of the week," Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa was reported by Reuters as saying on Monday during a television interview.
The left-leaning president also hinted that the Australian national may be granted asylum by Quito if indeed he faces eventual extradition to the United States once British authorities send him to Sweden and face questioning regarding cases of sexual assault.
Mr Assange has alleged that the rape cases filed against him were mere pretext for U.S. authorities to hale him before an American court to answer to charges of espionage and sedition, which are punishable by death or life imprisonment in the U.S. justice system.
His decision on the matter will be influenced by how much he would learn of the judicial process being observed in Sweden in order to ensure that Mr Assange's fears would not materialise, Mr Correa said.
"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," he further explained.
By Wednesday, Mr Correa said he will meet his foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, and other senior diplomats based on Ecuador's embassy in London, where the whistleblower has been holed out since June 19 to evade arrest by the Scotland Yard.
It is likely that Mr Assange's fate, as far as his asylum request is concerned, will be known before the end of the week, the Ecuadorian leader said, who had previously offered the same nature of protection to the WikiLeaks owner back in 2010.
His pronouncement was consistent with what Mr Patino had announced prior to the start of the London Olympics two weeks ago, in which it was made known that a decision on the Mr Assange's asylum application will be deferred until after the sports fest.
Mr Correa also spoke publicly about the case some few weeks following his meeting with Mr Assange's mother, who is a Queensland resident, and famed Spanish lawyer Baltasar Garzon, who recently assumed the role as the former hacker's chief defender.
Yet even as Mr Assange will win the formal favour of Ecuador, it remains to been if he would actually enjoy protection of the country as getting there means he would have to emerge from Ecuador's embassy in the British capital.
Outside of the mission, police were in stand-by to arrest Mr Assange, who Scotland Yard said had violated the terms of his bail.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Bob Carr said on Tuesday that no formal notice was sent to him by Ecuadorian embassy officials in Australia, adding that he has no idea if indeed the country will extend its protection to an Aussie.
Senator Carr also dismissed suggestions that Canberra would be red-faced in the event Quito responds positively to Mr Assange's asylum application.
"It wouldn't be remotely embarrassing. It's a matter between him and the Swedes," the country's top diplomat told the Australian Associated Press (AAP) today.
He also reiterated the national government's position that Mr Assange was not the subject of an active extradition request from Washington.
If such is the case, Senator Carr explained, U.S. authorities would have saved a lot of trouble by going directly to London "because his extradition from there to the U.S. would be easier than his extradition from Sweden to the U.S."
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