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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: 17:42 BST] The Ecuadorian Embassy in London has been flooded with messages of support for Julian Assange. Ecuador's Minister of Foreign Affairs stated:
More than 10,000 emails have been received at the moment.
Thousands of people asking the Ecuadorian government to accord asylum to Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, sent a steady stream of messages saying why they support him.
This comes a just after a petition with signatures from many high-profile people, along with over 4,000 other supporters, was hand delivered to the Embassy.
An article in WSWS details the latest evidence of a U.S. operation against Julian Assange, including information that has come out of Bradley Manning's pre-trial hearings.
[UPDATE: 2012-06-27 03:30 BST] U.S. history professor Lawrence Davidson wrote an essay entitled "Hero on the run: Julian Assange and his US detractors" in which he explains why Julian Assange should be treated as a hero, not hunted as a criminal.
Julian Assange is now a hero on the run. And, he is probably going to stay that way for the foreseeable future. Even if he makes it to Ecuador he will need bodyguards to protect him from kidnapping or worse. As one Pentagon spokesman put it, “If doing the right thing is not good enough for [Assange] then we will figure out what other alternatives we have to compel [him] to do the right thing.” And what do America’s leaders regard as the “right thing” in this case? Obviously, keeping silent about Washington’s doing the wrong thing.
Read the full essay here.
Jacob Appelbaum was interviewed by Voice of Russia about Julian Assange's decision to seek asylum. He explains how he believes Mr Assange chose to seek asylum after losing faith in the justice system. He also discusses how people internationally can support him:
I think a couple of things. One thing is to understand that it is not that Julian has no interest in resolving these issues in Sweden. I talked to him quite extensively about it. The problem is that Sweden will not make even the most basic guaranties. For example they could interview him right now in the embassy and clear things up, they refused to do that. So, pressuring the Swedish Government to remotely interview him, as they have done in many other cases, that is an extremely useful thing to do.
Furthermore, pressuring the Australian Government to actually protect their own citizens, I mean how sad it is that an Australian citizen had to go to another country to ask for help. And finally writing a letter of support to the Ecuadorian Government suggesting that you would go there as a tourist, that you would be ever so grateful, that giving Assange this asylum would really be a positive thing in the world – that is the thing which everyone can do, it is as simple as going to the embassy’s website and filling in the form. I wrote one of these letters myself.
Read or listen to the full interview here.
A public forum on "WikiLeaks, Assange, and Democracy" is being held at the Coombs Theatre, A.N.U, Canberra tonight (June 27) at 7PM. Speakers include:
The entire event will be also be live-streamed.