WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange really doesn’t want to be extradited to Sweden for allegations of sex offenses, where he may be handed over to U.S. authorities. In a tweet at 2:40 p.m., @WikiLeaks said that the Australian activist “has requested political asylum and is under the protection of the Ecuadorian embassy in London.” In a followup tweet they added, “We will have more details on the Ecuadorian situation soon.”
Ecuador’s foreign minister confirmed to USA Today that Mr. Assange is at Ecuador’s U.K. embassy where he is seeking political asylum.
Why Ecuador, you might be wondering? Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa is a left-wing populist with a degree in economics (who closed an American military base in Ecuador in 2009) who may be sympathetic to the plight of WikiLeaks. Mr. Assange was offered residency by Ecuador as far back as 2010, when Ecuador voiced concerns about some of the findings about American policy uncovered by WikiLeaks.
“We are open to giving him residency in Ecuador, without any problem and without any conditions,” deputy foreign minister Kintto Lucas said in 2010.
Mr. Assange and Mr. Correa also have a history; Mr. Assange interviewed president Correa on his show, “The World Tomorrow,” produced by Russia Today, just last month.
“Where are you, in England?” Mr. Correa asks at the beginning of the interview. In fact, Mr. Assange does the interviews from house arrest.
We’ve reached out to the Ecuadorian embassy in London and will update when we know more.