The Union of South American Nations decided to join in the merry dance of countries on Monday that are concerned about the fate of computer hacker and WikiLeaks mastermind Julian Assange.
Assange, who is Australian, is currently residing in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, wanted for crimes in Sweden and may or may not have already been indicted in the U.S.
Meanwhile both Australia and the U.S. have said nothing about the situation, and this latest pronouncement may have just soured Britain's diplomatic and economic prospects in South America.
The Union of South American Nations, or Unasur in Spanish, released a statement expressing their "solidarity and support for the government of Ecuador," and reiterating "the rights of states to concede asylum" to whomever they wish.
They also condemned the alleged threats by the British to barge into the Ecuadorian embassy and forcibly arrest Assange, by citing "the principle of international law, by which the UK cannot hold to domestic law in order not to abide by an obligation of international law."
However, they did not outright endorse Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa's decision to take in Assange, merely his right to do so.
The U.S. has yet to make any noise on the matter, despite Assange's reported fears that Britain truly means to extradite him, via Sweden, to the U.S., where he could, in theory, face the death penalty. Britain, meanwhile, may regret the timing of all this, as it has recently been trying to establish new markets in South America, according to the UK outlet Politics.co.uk.
But a retired U.S. diplomat named Myles Frechette, who is an expert on Latin American affairs, told the Associated Press that he doesn't expect other nations in the region to explicitly support Ecuador's decision to grant refuge to Assange.
"While some of the governments in the region will cheer Correa's little-guy exposure of U.S. arrogance in commenting on some of the actions of other governments [in diplomatic cables published online by WikiLeaks], some like Chile, Colombia, Brazil and Peru, want to be taken seriously as internationally credible interlocutors," he said.
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