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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: 20:40 BST] BBC has posted an audio excerpt from Julian Assange's upcoming interview. Below is the transcript:
Interviewer: Mr Assange, you have been summoned to appear at Belgravia Police Station tomorrow morning. Are you going to go?
Julian Assange: Our advice is that asylum law, both internationally and domestically within the UK, takes precedence to extradition law. So the answer is almost certainly not.
Interviewer: Almost certainly? You're still hesitating?
Julian Assange: Well, the issues are being looked at; we only received the letter this morning.
Interviewer: What are you afraid of if you do go to Sweden?
Julian Assange: Well, the concern is predominately in relation to the United States and it's not a concern that affects me alone. It concerns a number of people who have worked for our organisation and been volunteers for it. In the United States, since at least the beginning of 2011, according to The Washington Post, a U.S. Grand Jury has been empaneled in Washington, and it has been pulling in witnesses, forced testimony from those witnesses, and subpoenaed records from Google, from Twitter, from our ISP, that has been working with the FBI. Now, according to public record, the file for the prosecution has reached 42,135 pages as a result of Bradley Manning's hearings. Bradley Manning, an alleged associate of mine, who is in prison, they say, for interacting with me, has been found to have been placed under torturous conditions, by the UN Special Rapporteur. His lawyer says that the reason he has been placed in those conditions - the reason he has been subject to cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment - is so that they can force him to testify against me.
Interviewer: What evidence do you have for that?
Julian Assange: That is a matter of public record. It is public record from the hearings that have occurred in the past few months in the United States in Washington.
For UK residents, the full interview can be heard tonight on BBC2, 22:30 BST.
[UPDATE: 18:50 BST] A new BBC Newsnight interview with Julian Assange will air tonight at 22:30 BST on BBC2.
In response to the police requesting he come to the station tomorrow, Mr Assange said:
Our advice is that asylum law both internationally and domestically takes precedence over extradition law so almost certainly not.
[UPDATE: 18:10 BST] Journalists, intellectuals, artists and academics from Mexico have signed a letter in support of Julian Assange and his decision to seek asylum. The letter demands that Mr Assange stop being portrayed as a dangerous enemy and also calls for the U.S. Government to drop the charges against Bradley Manning. Signatories include Carlos Payan Velver, founding director of La Jornada, writer Elena Poniatowska, poet Hugo Gutiérrez Vega, historian Lorenzo Meyer, and artists Gabriel Orozco and Vicente Rojo.
The UK High Court has halted the extradition of a previously convicted child sex offender on allegations of raping and sexually assaulting three underage girls. Meanwhile, Julian Assange, who is yet to be charged with any crime and could be questioned via telephone or other lawful and normal procedures, is facing arrest and extradition to Sweden were he to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy.
[UPDATE: 13:55 BST] WikiLeaks tweeted the following in response to this morning's reports of UK police delivering a letter requesting Julian Assange present himself at the police station:
UK gov media war against Assange starts this morning with "sources" giving note sent to Ecuador embassy to Press Association within mins.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) June 28, 2012
UK media note. Asylum law suspends extradition law while asylum is being assessed, even in UK domestic legislation.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) June 28, 2012
[UPDATE: 13:30 BST] RT London correspondent Sarah Firth tweeted the following statement from the Metropolitan Police:
The MPS have this morning, Thursday 28 June, served a surrender notice upon a 40-year-old man that requires him to attend a police station at date and time of our choosing. This is standard practice in extradition cases and is the first step in the removal process. He remains in breach of his bail conditions, failing to surrender would be a further breach of conditions and he is liable to arrest.
Ms Firth is seeking further clarification on the statement.
Firedoglake's Kevin Gosztola wrote an analysis of the reactions to Julian Assange's decision to seek asylum. He comments on the thousands of emails the Ecuadorian Embassy received in support of Mr Assange, along with a letter with high-profile signatories which was hand-delivered to the Embassy. In contrast, we see media commentators and pundits in the UK and U.S. who attack Mr Assange for his decision.
[UPDATE: 12:50 BST] Newspapers are reporting that the Metropolitan Police have delivered a letter to Julian Assange stating that he must present himself at the police station at 11:30 tomorrow morning. It is likely that this is a standard procedure, as tomorrow is the first day of the 10-day window in which he was supposed to be extradited to Sweden. As long as he remains in the Ecuadorian Embassy, he should be under protection from arrest.
El Telegrapho reported on the latest statements from Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, during a conference in Guayaquil. He commented that the decision is "not simple" and time must be taken to do proper analysis of Julian Assange's request.
[UPDATE: 2012-06-28 01:05 BST] A rally for Julian Assange will be held at the Swedish Embassy in London, June 28 at 3PM. (The website states on hold, but an email has been sent out stating that the rally will be held, as media and important organisations are scheduled to be there.)
Media Lens published an in-depth analysis of the media coverage of Julian Assange's decision to seek asylum.
The media response to Assange’s asylum request tells us much about the default brutality and reflexive herdthink of elite corporate journalism. We witnessed a rush to be seen to revile Assange as a ‘turd’, ‘weirdo’, ‘narcissist’ and joke. The crucial importance of his achievements, of his cause, was deemed utterly irrelevant beside his allegedly unbearable personal failings.
Almost as disturbing as the tsunami of mindless vitriol is the lack of dissent. US analyst Glenn Greenwald has so far been the sole high-profile political commentator willing to take on the UK’s hard-right ‘liberals’. By contrast, the Guardian and Independent’s dissident figleaves, and the many aspirational leftists who long to join them, have kept their heads down, saying nothing in support of a man who has risked his freedom and life to expose vast crimes of state.
It is yet more evidence, if any were needed, that political ‘convergence’ – the empty ‘choice’ between Old Tories and New Tories – has brought with it a dramatic and dangerous narrowing of 'mainstream' thought and dissent. We seem to be at the dawn of a brave new world: a high-tech Dark Age dominated by a kind of corporate feudalism.
Read their full anaylsis here.
Video of yesterday's forum on "WikiLeaks, Assange, and Democracy" is available online. The speakers were Christine Assange, Senator Scott Ludlam, Bernard Keane, Humphrey McQueen, David Hicks, Aloysia Brooks, and Mary Kostakidis.
WL Central has transcribed a conversation on Late Night Live Radio about Julian Assange's decision to seek asylum between Phillip Adams, with South American journalist Thiago de Aragao and international law professor Donald Rothwell.