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article imageAssange will be granted political asylum in Ecuador (Update)

By Anne Sewell     Aug 14, 2012 in World
Quito - Officials close to the Ecuadorian President in Quito had advised that WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, will reportedly be granted asylum in Ecuador. Correa has since said via Twitter that the report is false - a decision is yet to be reached.
Digital Journal reported earlier today that a decision on Assange's asylum would be released soon after a meeting between President Correa and his Foreign MInister, Ricardo Patiño, on Wednesday.
However, Irene Caselli, reporter for The Guardian who is based in Quito, is reporting that an official, who is familiar with the government discussions, was quoted as saying, "Ecuador will grant asylum to Julian Assange."
President Correa told Ecuadorian state television on Monday that a decision would be made this week, and Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patiño indicated that the president would reveal his answer once the London Olympic Games were over.
According to government sources in Quito, it is confirmed that despite the outstanding legal issues, President Correa will grant asylum to Assange. They added that this offer had been made to Assange several months ago, prior to his seeking refuge in the embassy.
An official with knowledge of these discussions had said that the embassy had discussed the asylum request. He said that the British government "discouraged the idea." The Swedish government was also "not very collaborative", he added.
The official added: "We see Assange's request as a humanitarian issue. The contact between the Ecuadorean government and WikiLeaks goes back to May 2011, when we became the first country to see the leaked U.S. embassy cables completely declassified ... It is clear that when Julian entered the embassy there was already some sort of deal. We see in his work a parallel with our struggle for national sovereignty and the democratization of international relations."
Difficulties will possibly be experienced by Assange when he tries to leave the embassy to head to Quito.
Patiño told Reuters on Tuesday, "For Mr Assange to leave England, he should have a safe pass from the British [government]. Will that be possible? That's an issue we have to take into account."
Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy on June 19, after the British Supreme Court refused to reopen his appeal against extradition to Sweden on alleged charges of sexual misconduct.
Assange and his lawyers believe that the U.S. has already lodged a sealed indictment against Assange, and that his case might even be worse than the one of whistleblower Bradley Manning. The U.S. wants Assange over the release of secret cables which caused the U.S. major embarrassment.
Correa and Patiño have both said that Ecuador will take a sovereign decision regarding Assange. They say they view his case as a humanitarian act, and are seeking to protect Assange's right to life and freedom.
Assange's mother, Christine Assange, was recently in Quito for discussions with President Correa and Patiño. During her visit, María Augusta Calle, a congresswoman of the president's party, and former head of the Sovereignty, Foreign Affairs and Latin American Integration Commission during the 2008 Constitutional Assembly, told Mrs Assange, "Our comrade the president, who leads our international policy, will grant Julian Assange asylum."
However, final confirmation from the President's office that asylum has been granted to Assange, has not yet been received.
Update: President Rafael Correa has since confirmed via Twitter than the statement made to the Guardian's reporter was false, and a decision still awaits to be made. His tweet read, “Assange asylum rumor is false.”
More about Julian Assange, Wikileaks, political asylum, Ecuador, Asylum
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