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WikiLeaks announced via Twitter on the evening of June 19 (19:40 local time) that Julian Assange has requested political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
This comes after the UK Supreme Court refused a submission to reopen his case on June 14. Julian Assange has spent 560 days under house arrest without charge. His extradition to Sweden is set between June 28 and July 7.
Mr Assange will remain at the embassy under the protection of the Ecuadorian government while they process his request.
In his statement to the Diplomatic Mission of Ecuador, Julian Assange commented on his abandonment by his home country, Australia, as well as the threat of the death penalty in the U.S.
Ecuador offered political asylum to Julian Assange in November 2010. At that time, Vice Chancellor Kintto Lucas stated, "We are open to grant him Ecuadorian residency, without any kind of problem or any kind of conditions." (President Rafeal Correa afterwards stated the offer was not official.)
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa was a guest on Julian Assange's talk show "The World Tomorrow" this past May. The full interview is available online in English, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and Arabic.
Updates will be added as they become available.
[UPDATE: 18:05 BST] A vigil for Julian Assange, supporting his bid for asylum, will be held in Washington D.C. today (June 24), 6 PM at the Ecuadorian Embassy.
Embassy of Ecuador
1050 30th Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
Australian journalist Phillip Dorling writes that Mr Assange is seeking asylum in hopes of eliciting diplomatic guarantees that he will not be prosecuted in the U.S. on charges of espionage or conspiracy.
[UPDATE: 06:25 BST] Australian Attorney-General Nicola Roxon told Newtwork Ten the following:
There is nothing the Australian government can currently do [for Julian Assange] that it has not been doing.
In early May, Mr Assange's legal advisor Jennifer Robinson met with the Attorney-General asking for basic safeguards to prevent his extradition to the U.S. The entire list of requests was denied. The full list and the response letter are available via the WikiLeaks website.
[UPDATE: 06:15 BST] Bernard Keane has written an article in response to Australian Forign Minister Bob Carr's latest remarks on Julian Assange. Keane debunks Carr's assertations that it's easier to extradite from the UK than Sweden and that WikiLeaks' releases are not like the Pentagon Papers. Furthermore, he discusses the evidence of the U.S. grand jury into WikiLeaks:
As Assange laid out carefully in his interview with the ABC on Friday morning, there is copious evidence on the public record of a US investigation into Assange. The evidence has emerged during the trial of Bradley Manning, evidence has come from witnesses like David House who have been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury pursuing Assange, evidence has come from the efforts of Twitter and Twitter account holders to fight subpoenas relating to the investigation.
The investigation is not specifically targeted at Bradley Manning, who is the defendant in a separate military trial process. It is not targeted at Swedish sexual assault allegations. It is targeted at WikiLeaks’s, and Assange’s, journalism.
The question for Bob Carr is not whether he has asked the Americans about a sealed indictment (which is not publicly confirmed, but the subject of extensive and corroborated reports, including from WikiLeaks’s opponents) but whether he has demanded to know why an Australian journalist (and found to be a journalist by sources as varied as the UK Supreme Court, the Walkley Foundation in Australian and the Martha Gellhorn trust in the UK) is the target of a US investigation simply for that journalism.
The full article is available at Crikey.
Francis FitzGibbon QC wrote an in-depth article on what Julian Assange must prove to be accepted into asylum. The three main points are:
The Brisbane WikiLeaks Support Network reported on vigils for Julian Assange in both Brisbane and London. The report also includes a recent interview with activist Ciaron O'Reilly.
[UPDATE: 2012-06-24 02:05 BST] Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr stated he has spoken to a single unnamed U.S. official regarding Julian Assange:
I've said to a senior US official... Have you got plans to extradite him? They haven't said they have plans.