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International Law

Ecuador Says It’s Mulling Asylum Request by WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange

Posted Jun 19, 2012 3:30 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Julian Assange. haak78 / Shutterstock.com

Former computer hacker and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, facing likely extradition to Sweden—where he is wanted for questioning concerning claimed sex crimes against two volunteers for his organization—has holed up in the Ecuador's embassy in London and is seeking political asylum in the South American country.

Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino says Ecuador is "studying and analyzing the request" by Assange, according to the BBC News and Reuters.

Although a further appeal to the European Court of Human Rights is possible, Assange has exhausted his legal options in the United Kingdom to avoid extradition after an adverse June 14 ruling by Britain's Supreme Court. In addition to the claimed Swedish sex crimes, in which he has not been charged, he is reportedly concerned that he could be extradited from Sweden to the United States, where he could potentially face the death penalty, if charged here with espionage and sedition concerning a massive WikiLeaks dump of American military documents in 2010.

The Associated Press reports that Assange claims in a letter to Ecuador seeking asylum that he has, in fact, been secretly indicted by the U.S. in a military secrets case and that the U.S. will seek to extradite him if he is sent to Sweden concerning what he describes as a politically motivated case there.

Authorities in his own home country of Australia have cooperated with a U.S. investigation of WikiLeaks and determined that he has committed no crime there. But Australian Prime Minister Julie Gillard has said the country can't protect Assange against justice systems elsewhere.

Patino says Ecuador will consider Assange's asylum request "taking into account the respect for the norms and principles of international law as well as Ecuador's policy of protecting human rights."

There is no confirmation of Assange's claim that he has been secretly indicted in the U.S.

Additional and related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Interpol Seeks WikiLeaks Founder Assange for Questioning in Swedish Sex Case"

ABAJournal.com: "Soldier Bradley Manning Charged with Aiding Enemy in WikiLeaks Case, May Get Life If Convicted"

The Guardian: "Julian Assange seeking asylum in Ecuadorian embassy in London"

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