The controversial WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, was finally granted political asylum in Ecuador. Ecuador’s grant of Assange’s political asylum might stir up a diplomatic scandal that could end in unflattering terms for the embassy in London.
The diplomatic standoff between Britain and Ecuador officials over the extradition of Julian Assange was just as intense as some international soap opera. It had everything, including a controversial end to a story that brought along tension and scrutiny against WikiLeaks.
Ricardo Patino, Foreign Minister of Ecuador, said the asylum request was finally granted because there were concerns for Assange’s safety and rights. “We believe that his fears are legitimate and there are the threats that he could face political persecution” said Patino.
“We trust that the UK will offer as soon as possible the guarantee for the safe passage of asylum for Mr Assange and they will respect those international agreements they have signed in the past” the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister added.
Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, is a man that some of today’s most powerful governments would love to see behind bars. The United States alone is intensely working to have Julian Assange out of the picture, after WikiLeaks published secret diplomatic documents.
Britain has been threatening Ecuador for eight weeks now that it will revoke its diplomatic status in London if they grant Assange asylum. The WikiLeaks founder has been staying in Ecuador’s embassy in central London for two months now after a court decided he had to be extradited to Sweden.
“It is too early to say when or if Britain will revoke the Ecuadorean embassy’s diplomatic status” said a spokesman for the Foreign Office just ahead the news that Assange got asylum in Ecuador. “Giving asylum doesn’t fundamentally change anything” the spokesman warned.
“We have a legal duty to extradite Mr Assange. There is a law that says we have to extradite him to Sweden. We are going to have to fulfill that law” he added.
But Ecuadorian officials say Britain is blackmailing them with a “hostile and intolerable act”. Former diplomats of the British government have a similar point of view. Tony Brenton, former ambassador to Moscow, told the BBC, the Foreign Office might have “slightly overreached themselves here”.