The Ecuadorian government has agreed to grant asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who is currently residing at the country’s embassy in London.
Assange entered the embassy on June 19 after all attempts to fight extradition to Sweden – where the WikiLeaks founder faces charges of sexual assault – failed.
Assange, who denies the accusations, is concerned that extradition to Sweden could ultimately lead to his eventual transfer and detention in the United States.
Indeed, Ecuadorian foreign minister Ricardo Patino said his country believes Assange faces a genuine threat of political persecution and possible extradition to the United States where the WikiLeaks founder would be denied a fair trial.
“It is not impossible that he would be treated in a cruel manner, condemned to life in prison, or even the death penalty,” Patino told journalists in Quito. “Ecuador is convinced that his procedural rights have been violated.”
Patino also said he hoped Britain would allow Assange to leave the embassy in London for Ecuador, a request the UK continues to rebuff. As such, Assange will likely remain in the Ecuadorian embassy for the foreseeable future.
Tensions between the two countries have increased significantly over the issue of Assange’s extradition request, with Patino claiming Bristish authorities had threatened to raid the embassy if the WikiLeaks founder wasn’t immediately handed over to officials.
“Today we have received from the United Kingdom an explicit threat in writing that they could assault our embassy in London if Ecuador does not hand over Julian Assange,” Patino said on Wednesday. “We are not a British colony.”
Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa expressed similar sentiments, saying: “No one is going to terrorize us!”