Ecuador Grants Asylum to Julian Assange

Ecuador has granted asylum to Julian Assange of Wikiliaks.

“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....

“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.

Ecuador can only provide protection to Assange in Ecuador. And Britain still says it must extradite him to Sweden. How does he get to Ecuador? [More..]

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.

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London since June 19, sleeping on an air mattress in an office. He can't go outdoors, so he gets no exercise or sunlight.

Some of Mr. Assange’s friends have encouraged him to put on music and dance as a way of getting physical activity and that they had also brought sunlamps.”

Sweden has thus far indicated it would comply with any request to extradite Assange to the U.S. to face charges over Wikileaks.

Wikileaks issued a statement yesterday before the asylum decision:

We remind the public that these extraordinary actions are being taken to detain a man who has not been charged with any crime in any country,” the statement said. It added: “We further urge the U.K. government to show restraint, and to consider the dire ramifications of any violation of the elementary norms of international law.”

Update: Why Ecuador was right to grant asylum to Assange.

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    actually from what I've read (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by Slayersrezo on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 03:59:43 PM EST
    According to Swedish law, he has to be "in custody" for questioning before they can bring "formal" charges. So the defenders of this prosecution can always use that as a "he's being charged" (or even has been charged, it's just not 'formal')type of "gotcha" moment.

    Of course then they never tell the rest of the story.
    A. How he was initially questioned in Sweden when the accusations first broke. How the original prosecutor declined to prosecute him.
    B. How he was there a whole month before he left, and how he was given permission to leave.
    C. How he has repeatedly offered to be questioned :

    1. On foreign soil
    2. Or in a web appearance
    but how these offers have been declined.

    Of course the charges themselves are fishy because of the tweets (available on the net) sent right "after the fact" by the two women (whose names are also available in many places)about their time with him and how much fun they were having.

    Then there's that never denied and widely reported Grand Jury convened in Virginia concerning Assange and Wikileaks, the fact that Sweden has been known to bend its laws and bend over backwards to send people to us (in the most famous case to be tortured) in violation of its own laws, and the fact that a certain type of radical feminism has a foothold in terms of the laws in Sweden and you can see why, if I was Assange, I would do everything in my power to avoid being in their clutches as well.

    Good one Slay... (none / 0) (#21)
    by fishcamp on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 04:08:03 PM EST
    They must want him pretty badly... (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by unitron on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 06:34:33 PM EST
    Britain is making noises about revoking the embassy's diplomatic status so that they can go in and grab him.

    Obviously this is all about sex.

    "they" = Barack Obama (none / 0) (#35)
    by Andreas on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 10:38:36 PM EST
    All of this is happening because the despotic regime led by Barack Obama wants to indefinitely imprision or kill Julian Assange.

    Suzie, thank you for writing this and (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by caseyOR on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 01:38:10 AM EST
    injecting some facts into the discussion. Some days I just don't have the energy to respond to rape apologists and deniers.

    Assange should, IMO, be sent back to Sweden to deal with the questions concerning these alleged sexual assaults. He should not then be extradited to the U.S. It infuriates me that the U.S. government, the British government and, to some extent, the Swedish government are using allegations of sexual assault to mount a political persecution.

    I do not for one minute believe that the U.S. government gives a damn about the possible sexual assaults. I am disgusted by the feds manipulating of the situation, which effectively minimizes the sexual assault claims, to their own very dubious ends.

    Of course, we already know that our government often views claims of sexual assault as annoyances that get in their way. Just think of the very low number of such assaults in the military that get reported and the even lower number that get prosecuted. And don't get me started on the government's tolerance of such activity by contractors.

    I don't know (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 07:59:15 AM EST
    where you get this hyperbole but I wish you'd leave it off this site: "Of course, we already know that our government often views claims of sexual assault as annoyances that get in their way."

    He hasn't been charged or convicted of a crime. He's wanted for investigation in Sweden. A grand jury was convened here over Wikileaks and the U.S. wants him badly. This is political and now that he has been granted asylum in Ecuador, he should be allowed to go there.

    Next to Chapo Guzman, there's probably no bigger target in the U.S. cross-hairs right now.


    Perhaps I wasn't clear, J. I know Assange (3.50 / 2) (#45)
    by caseyOR on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 08:12:50 AM EST
    has neither been charged nor convicted. The point I was trying to make was that it is despicable, in my view, that our government is using the claim of alleged sexual assault to try to get their hands on him.

    I don't think my comment was hyperbole. The government does have a record of ignoring sexual assault claims when such claims prove to be inconvenient for the government. I made that comment because I believe the move to send Assange to Sweden, on the part of the U.S.A. and Great Britain and Sweden, has pretty much nothing to do with questioning him about the assault charges and everything to do with grabbing him and hauling him to Virginia and the brig.

    Just to be clear, I do not support the efforts of our government to get its collective hands on Assange.

    I'm sorry my original comment was not clear to you.


    I got your point (none / 0) (#49)
    by sj on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 10:48:23 AM EST
    And the thing is, he has stated that he would agree to surrender to Sweden if they would guarantee that they in turn would not extradite him to the US.  They have specifically declined to make any such guarantee.

    These women are pawns in machinations of the USA and their claims will never be investigated appropriately while the USA is involved.

    It's really scary, though, how small the world is.  And how public.


    Thank you, Jeralyn (1.00 / 1) (#47)
    by Slayersrezo on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 10:25:47 AM EST
    It's impossible to have a reasoned discussion when any questioning of a particular case, any questioning of the numbers involved in a problem in society and any concern over definitions of a particular crime labels one a "insert crime here apologist".

    Correcting misinformation (1.00 / 1) (#37)
    by SuzieTampa on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 01:01:27 AM EST
    When the two women went to the police to complain about Assange and see if he could be forced to take an HIV test, the police determined that their statements amounted to sexual molestation and rape.

    A prosecutor dismissed the idea of rape, but Assange was still under investigation for molestation. The women's attorney, Claes Borgstrom, appealed to a higher-ranking prosecutor, Marianne Ny, who put rape back into the mix.

    Assange has insisted that this was improper. But both Swedish and British law lets higher-ranking prosecutors overrule subordinates, said Senior District Judge Howard Riddle in his rejection of Assange's appeal in February 2011. (Cryptome has a transcript.)

    Assange's lawyer in Sweden said that, after Ny took the case Sept. 1, she made no attempt to interview Assange before he left for London at the end of September. Actually, Ny had contacted Hurtig, who later said he couldn't find Assange. Riddle said Hurtig corrected his evidence at the last minute, but in such a low-key way as to be misleading:

    I do not accept that this was a genuine mistake. It cannot have slipped his mind. For over a week he was attempting (he says without success) to contact a very important client about a very important matter. The statement was a deliberate attempt to mislead the court.

    Later, the Swedish Bar Association issued a warning to Hurtig, who Assange has since replaced.

    Assange and his supporters have argued that, even if what the women say is true, the actions would not be illegal in Britain. Riddle disagreed.

    At first, Assange suggested the accusations might be a Pentagon plot, and one of his lawyers was quoted as calling it a honeytrap. The lawyer later said he was misquoted, and WikiLeaks said the women didn't conspire. The meme changed to the idea that the women were being used by others. As Riddle noted, Assange has not argued in court that this is a political conspiracy, nor has he presented any evidence.  

    To rebut more of what Slayer wrote: Although Assange was interviewed in Sweden, prosecutors still want the opportunity to question him further. It's not unusual for a suspect to be interviewed more than once.

    The first woman did tweet about being in the company of such esteemed men, and the second woman was impressed, too. One of the websites that has published the women's names, addresses, photos, etc., also inexplicably published statements given by the women and others.

    In these statements, the first woman describes sex with Assange as the worse ever. The second woman talks about how they spent hours in foreplay but Assange couldn't sustain an erection while wearing a condom.

    Before Judge Riddle, one of Assange's defense witnesses -- a former Chief District Prosecutor in Stockholm -- said Sweden would not and could not extradite Assange to the U.S. to be executed. In his ruling, Riddle noted that it's easier to extradite someone from the U.K. to the U.S., and that, if Assange is extradited to Sweden, and the U.S. then wants him, Sweden would not only have to approve the extradition, but it also would need the approval of the British Secretary of State.

    Amnesty International has criticized Sweden (and other Scandinavian countries) for its low rate of prosecution and conviction in rape cases.

    It's possible that the Village Voice might be biased on "human sexual trafficking" since it has been accused of doing that through its back pages. Do you have a link to that Snopes page? I tried searching for "human trafficking," "sex trafficking" and "sexual trafficking" and found nothing debunking figures.

    Unitron, for some of us scary feminists, this case is about sex, specifically: If a person says yes to any form of sexual contact, does she or he then lose the right to say no to any other sexual interaction? This has great implications, especially in places with high HIV rates. In other words, if a woman wants sex with a guy, but insists he wear a condom, is it legal for him to trick her in some fashion into having sex without a condom?

    Saying it's all about sex... (none / 0) (#38)
    by unitron on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 01:29:02 AM EST
    ...was my sarcastic way of saying that perhaps it's not all about sex.

    Being about sex is different from being about politics.

    That's not the same as saying being about sex is of lesser importance than being about politics.

    If anything, I'm more interested in justice for sexual victims, if they are (It hasn't gone to court yet, and I wasn't there), than I am in "justice" for embarrased politicians.


    and now I'm embarrassed... (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by unitron on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 01:31:10 AM EST
    ...at having misspelled embarrassed.

    (Actually, I can usually spell quite accurately, it's my fingers and keyboard that seem to have the problem)


    I knew you were being sarcastic (none / 0) (#50)
    by SuzieTampa on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 12:48:42 PM EST
    Of course, a prosecution can be about more than one thing. Few of us know what the accusers want. It's quite possible that they wish they had never gone to the police because they live in secrecy now, and their careers are on hold, if not ruined. Remember that they were leftist WL supporters in the beginning.

    I agree that this case has become utterly political, but I see the politics differently. Assange had applied to become a resident of Sweden and wanted to base WL there because of Sweden's laws on freedom of information.

    The Swedish Prosecution Authority put up atimeline in English: It says the prosecutor on duty ordered Assange's arrest on the day that the women went to police. 5 days later, another prosecutor stops the rape investigation, but continues the one on sexual molestation.

    The women's lawyer appeals, and Marianne Ny, Sweden's Director of Public Prosecution, puts rape back on the table and expands the investigation. A couple of weeks later, she orders Assange arrested.

    According to the British transcript I posted earlier, Assange's  lawyer in Sweden first says prosecutors let Assange leave without questioning. When emails are presented to the contrary, he says that he couldn't get in touch with Assange for a week to tell him that he was wanted for questioning. He says he forgot to mention that, and Judge Riddle says he doesn't believe the lawyer forgot.        

    18 November 2010
    Marianne Ny orders the arrest of Julian Assange, with probable cause, suspected of rape, three cases of sexual molestation and illegal coercion.
    Assange appeals up to the Swedish Supreme Court, which denies him. The same happens in Britain.

    Assange could have served the freedom-of-information movement much better if he had not made himself its poster child. When he broke with Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Birgitta Jonsdottir, the architect of the drop-box software, and others, the architect took his property with him, and WL has had a hard time getting any new information.

    Just like I can be antiracist and criticize the way the GZ case has been handled, I can support FOI without supporting Assange.


    Ask, and ye shall receive (none / 0) (#46)
    by Slayersrezo on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 10:21:15 AM EST

    It seems to be common meme whenever there is a big sporting event in the US or Europe: there's going to be tons of trafficked girls brought in (somehow, unlike Afghanistan there's never any trafficked boys in these screeds)from hither and yon (Eastern Europe mostly) and yet somehow the local authorities never end up finding more than a handful of victims, if that. The Straight Dope message board also has threads that discuss this overblown issue.


    human trafficking (none / 0) (#51)
    by SuzieTampa on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 02:22:31 PM EST
    I can't find your initial mention of human trafficking, and I don't know if by "girls," you mean all women, or you're specifically talking about underage females. But the Snopes link refers to media quoting -- not radical feminists -- but city officials who said as many as 10,000 prostitutes might be  brought into a city hosting the Super Bowl. I agree that's ridiculous.

    Another thing that fuels this is the media quoting people in sex work talking about how business is going to be booming whenever a big event brings lots of men to town. An example is this Tampa Bay Times article about how strip clubs are ramping up for the RNC.

    I searched the Straight Dope for "human trafficking" and "sex trafficking." I found two articles by Cecil Adams, and he doesn't say that the issue of  human trafficking is overblown. I invite others to read and judge for themselves. I can't track what everyone has said on a message board, however.

    I realize this tangent is irrelevant to Assange, but if you post  information that I think is incorrect, I'll answer until Jeralyn deletes your comments or tells me to stop.


    Correcting you (none / 0) (#48)
    by Slayersrezo on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 10:37:44 AM EST

    While hardly unbiased this explains the extradition issue far better than I can.


    I didn't argue the laws on extradition (none / 0) (#52)
    by SuzieTampa on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 02:56:56 PM EST
    And you have simply linked to a website that collects pro-Assange articles and information.

    Funny (none / 0) (#53)
    by Slayersrezo on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 03:18:18 PM EST
    When I googled Straight Dope and prostitution this came right up:



    I already told you (none / 0) (#54)
    by SuzieTampa on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 10:42:04 AM EST
    that I had no interest in going through message boards reading anonymous comments. And I agreed that wild comments about sporting events -- or the RNC -- were overblown.  I can't even remember how this topic arose or what point you're trying to make in an Assange thread. But here's the State Department's section on human trafficking.

    Would he fit in an extra large diplomatic pouch? (none / 0) (#1)
    by magster on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 01:26:04 PM EST
    That is quite the conundrum getting him out of London to Quito.  This can't be the first case of someone being granted asylum at an embassy, so what has been the protocol in prior instances?

    The Real Problem... (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 01:50:58 PM EST
    ...is air travel.

    No doubt they can sneak him out, but unless he can get some sort of non-secure transportation they will get him.  Which is actually in violation of the Vienna Conventions.  They are suppose to let him travel to the state of asylum.  But the Brits seem to think the Swedes request for questioning trumps international law.  And more importantly, the energy they are spending no doubt shows their intentions are anything but honorable.  The US wants him and Britain is determined to bow to our wants.  Good to see Ecuador not as eager.

    I can't find the link, but it stated he was sleeping on an air mattress in an office at the embassy.  But still running Wikileaks, which must drive the US mad.

    The Swedes to do something, charge him or drop it.  Seems like them them ask him some questions could be arranged without taking him to Sweden.


    There's a bigger problem (none / 0) (#12)
    by jbindc on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 02:08:19 PM EST
    And some good FAQ's here

    And although it is highly unlikely, the Brits could revoke the diplomatic status of the embassy under the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, which would then allow British police to enter the embassy and take custody of Assange.

    The UK Foreign Office had warned, in a note, that it could lift the embassy's diplomatic status to fulfil a "legal obligation" to extradite the 41-year-old by using the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987.

    That allows the UK to revoke the diplomatic status of an embassy on UK soil, which would potentially allow police to enter the building to arrest Mr Assange for breaching the terms of his bail.

    Mr Hague said it was a "matter of regret" that the Ecuadorean government decided to grant Mr Assange political asylum but warned that it "does not change the fundamentals" of the case.

    He also warned that it could drag on for some "considerable" time.

    "We will not allow Mr Assange safe passage out of the United Kingdom, nor is there any legal basis for us to do so," he said.

    Scuffles broke out outside the Ecuadorean embassy
    Mr Hague said there was "no threat" to storm the embassy.

    "We are talking about an Act of Parliament in this country which stresses that it must be used in full conformity with international law," he said.

    Not a violation to stop car (none / 0) (#13)
    by Travener on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 02:17:15 PM EST
    It would not be a violation of the Vienna Convention to stop the car. Diplomats can be stopped and even arrested; they just can't be held or prosecuted without their country's permission. Assange is not a diplomat and therefore he could be arrested on the spot and held by the Brits. If they want to get him to the airport they'd have to smuggle him there, but the consequences for Ecuador would be severe -- and they have a lot more to lose (trade, aid, visas to Britain) than the Brits would in any food fight.

    Links (none / 0) (#18)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 03:05:19 PM EST
    According to this article, they actually have to have a reason, like charging him with a crime, to detain him.

    And I assume that diplomats and people seeking asylum are not one in the same.  It alludes, but doesn't specifically say that people seeking asylum are suppose to have free travel rights.

    Some links to your claims would be very helpful.  The article I posted is more quotes than fact.


    Not finding the limitations... (none / 0) (#27)
    by Gandydancer on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 04:53:07 PM EST
    ...you claim on detaining Assange in the article you link to, but, from sbindc's BBC link, again:
    When Sweden issued its European Arrest Warrant, judges in the UK granted Julian Assange bail on strict conditions while the case was being considered.

    Julian Assange breached that bail by entering the embassy, making him liable for arrest.

    A rock hammer... (none / 0) (#2)
    by kdog on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 01:34:51 PM EST
    and tunnel to Ireland?

    Or that skyhook thing that Batman used to get outta China?

    Really big catapult? (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Dadler on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 01:39:08 PM EST
    Jumbo fireworks?



    laundry cart? (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by sj on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 01:47:32 PM EST
    Catering truck? Disguised as a woman?

    I like the sky-hook idea (none / 0) (#4)
    by Zorba on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 01:42:48 PM EST
    Maybe an Ecuadorian helicopter, landing on the roof of the embassy, to fly him out to an Ecuadorian ship?
    A personal jet-pack?
    A really good disguise?
    An invisibility cloak?

    Risky... (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 01:48:44 PM EST
    the RAF or a US drone might shoot the plane or helicopter down.

    Not if it was (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by NYShooter on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 05:17:00 PM EST
    Jason Bourne leading the escape....

    One of the comments (none / 0) (#10)
    by sj on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 01:55:27 PM EST
    in the NYT article suggested that an official vehicle was also covered by the diplomatic umbrella.  Therefore if one was driven into the embassy, loaded up with an Assange, and driven to an Ecuadoran airplane that an automobile could drive into without discharging passengers, that all diplomatic conventions would apply.

    I don't know if that's true.  Seems like laundry cart would have greater likelihood of stymying the British jackboots.


    Not so (none / 0) (#14)
    by Travener on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 02:18:18 PM EST
    Cars aren't covered and can be stopped for any number of reasons without breaking diplomatic ruls.

    Okay, that makes sense, actually (none / 0) (#20)
    by sj on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 03:59:58 PM EST
    From jbindc's BBC... (none / 0) (#23)
    by Gandydancer on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 04:32:06 PM EST
    Assuming Julian Assange evaded arrest outside the embassy, he could get into a diplomatic car. These vehicles enjoy protection in international law from "search, requisition, attachment and execution".

    That could lead to the curious legal position of the Met having the power to stop the car - but no power to search it for Julian Assange.

    But maybe they could starve him out.


    But seriously, (none / 0) (#5)
    by Zorba on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 01:46:46 PM EST
    why would Great Britain want to create an international incident over Assange?
    It really does put at risk people in British embassies all over the world.  Suppose Ecuador decides to arrest everyone in the British Embassy in Ecuador?  (OTOH, then maybe there could be a hostage exchange............)

    It would be a really stupid move IMO (none / 0) (#8)
    by sj on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 01:50:17 PM EST
    I think British ambassadors the world over would be kicked out of their embassies.

    The embassy car (none / 0) (#11)
    by fishcamp on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 01:57:29 PM EST
    is probably untouchable as is the Ecuadoran airlines it will probably drive up to.  He's good to go.  Quito gets a little 3rd worldy after about three weeks.  He may like it.

    Negotiated end most likely (none / 0) (#15)
    by Travener on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 02:22:27 PM EST
    The most likely scenario is some kind of negotiated end. The Ecuadorians would not risk smuggling out Assange and flying him to Ecuador. The UK would break dip relations over that, and they would put way too much at risk -- aid, loans, support in the IMF, etc., etc. They are taking a fairly big risk of all that now. Eventually, the way this is likely to unfold is that Assange will "voluntarily" give up his asylum in the embassy. Either that or he's going to be living there for years.

    Let's not forget, before we get too dewy-eyed about the guy, that he's wanted in Sweden on a sexual-assault charge.

    He has been charged with nothing (5.00 / 3) (#17)
    by trillian on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 03:03:26 PM EST
    They would only like to question him but refused to do so unless it was on the ground in Sweden.....even though they went to Germany to question someone connected to murder.  When Ecuador offered to send him to Sweden if they would guarantee not to hand him over to the Americans, the answer was NO. Anyone who still believes this is about sexual misconduct has not been following the case closely

    Maybe Assange can work a deal with US... (none / 0) (#16)
    by magster on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 02:48:44 PM EST
    Safe passage to Ecuador in exchange for posting Mitt's tax returns on Wikileaks.

    I'd be sneaky (none / 0) (#32)
    by Slayersrezo on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 05:57:18 PM EST
    I'd disguise him as the Ambassador. I think it would be possible to "smuggle" in enough make up and things over a period of time to the embassy to make him passable if a really close inspection wasn't done.

    Welcome to Oceania (none / 0) (#34)
    by mcl on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 08:58:03 PM EST
    <strike>Emmanuel Goldstein</strike> is the target of this week's Three Minute Hate.