2012-07-10 Live Blog: Assange requests political asylum from Ecuador

This is our live-coverage on Julian Assange's request for political asylum. See the archives for coverage of previous days.

Follow @wl_central on Twitter for all the latest updates.

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: 17:53 BST] Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa stated that his government's decision on whether to grant Julian Assange asylum will not be affected by pressure from the U.S., Britain, or Sweden.

We will consult with everyone we need to, but we will make a sovereign decision on whether or not to grant asylum to the Australian, Julian Assange.

If Assange's life is at risk, that is sufficient cause to approve his asylum. [...] the death penalty exists in the United States for political crimes.

Furthermore, he said the Ecuadorian government would "examine what the allegations are in Sweden, how the judicial process is carried out, and if it is compatible with the humanist vision of justice that we have in Ecuador".

[UPDATE: 2012-07-10 04:28 BST] Democracy Now! reported on the latest in Julian Assange's asylum bid.

Speaking to Democracy Now! over the weekend, Assange says he remains in good spirits and revealed that seven WikiLeaks staffers and volunteers are under grand jury investigation in the United States.

NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake was interviewed by RT and asked how angry the U.S. is at Julian Assange.

They are extremely angry. According to press reports, there has been a secret Grand Jury and maybe a secret indictment. They want to get him and put him away. There are those at high levels in this country – they have called for a death warrant.

Believe me, if the US get its hands on him – they’re going to do everything they can to put him away for as long as they can – or worse.

Speaking truth to power is very dangerous. The power elites, those in charge don’t like dirty linen being aired. They don’t like skeletons in the closet being seen. Not only do they object to it, they decide to turn it into criminal activity. Remember, my whistle blowing was criminalized by my own government.

[UPDATE: 2012-07-09 22:18 BST] Ecuador's ambassador to the U.S. Nathalie Cely expressed her concern about backlash if they accept Julian Assange into asylum, stating:

Giving asylum to Assange would be used as ammunition to attack the country.

She further said that the recriminations "already have begun", but that Ecuador is "ready as ever to defend our position and our decisions".

[UPDATE: 20:28 BST] Supporters in London continue to hold daily vigils outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in support of Julian Assange. The number of supporters usually increases in the afternoon, with the peak around 17:00.

Further contact information regarding the vigil is available from WISE UP for Bradley Manning.

[UPDATE: 17:10 BST] Julian Assange would have been in Sweden by this date, had he not chosen to seek political asylum from Ecuador. He continues to remain in the Embassy as the Ecuadorian Government considers his request. RT reported on the latest in Mr Assange's extradition bid:

[UPDATE: 2012-07-07 00:50 BST] The Foro de São Paulo, a political conference of organisations from Latin America and the Caribbean, called on the Government of Ecuador to grant Julian Assange political asylum to "save his life and liberty".

The U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador Adam Namm commented on Mr Assange's asylum bid, saying the White House had "aspired to justice" regarding WikiLeaks, but is not involved in the asylum discussions.

The Australian Greens have called on Foreign Minister Bob Carr to "show the same vigour" in defending Julian Assange as they showed in securing the release of lawyer Melinda Taylor.

Glenn Greenwald was on Democracy Now! discussing Mr Assange's bid for political asylum, as well as the release of the Syria Files. Watch the interview below:

[UPDATE: 17:42 BST] WikiLeaks held a press conference earlier today to announce the release of The Syria Files, over 2 million emails from 680 Syria-related entities or domain names.

Glenn Greenwald was on Democracy Now! discussing the latest developments in Julian Assange's asylum bid, as well as the release of the Syria Files. Watch the interview below:

[UPDATE: 05:06 BST] WikiLeaks will be holding a "major release" press conference at the Frontline Club today at 11AM (London time). The event will be live-streamed.

Further information about the conference is unavailable, but an hour earlier (11AM Sweden time/10AM London time) WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson and lawyer Jennifer Robinson will be holding a press conference at Almedalen in Sweden.

[UPDATE: 01:15 BST] Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño commented on one of the allegations against Julian Assange: that he supposedly broke a condom on purpose. He described the allegation as "hilarious" and said "it's a bit naive" to believe these allegations are the main reason for Sweden to request the extradition of Mr Assange.

[UPDATE: 00:55 BST] Ecuadorian diplomat Abel Molina was interviewed about Julian Assange's decision to seek asylum, in which he stated that Sweden's attempt to extradite Mr Assange from the UK is just a facade for political intentions of the U.S. Government.

Image [UPDATE: 2012-07-05 00:45 BST] On July 4, around 60 people gathered at the Foreign Ministry in Quito, Ecuador to express their support for Julian Assange.

An article in El Telégrafo discussed the possible outcome whether Ecuador chooses to grant or deny political asylum for Mr Assange. If granted, the UK would need to agree on a safe passage for Mr Assange to Ecuador. If denied, Mr Assange would be arrested and extradited to Sweden.

[UPDATE: 19:40 BST] Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino commented today on Julian Assange's application for political asylum (translated from Spanish).

We believe the issue has so much international impact [...] that we will take the time to sufficiently document the justification of the decision we make. [There] will be tens and perhaps hundreds of pages to explain our decision on the asylum request of Mr Assange.

He also commented that they are still gathering information about the Swedish allegations against Mr Assange. He mentioned that they have not even started judicial proceedings, and that Ecuador would not accept the extradition of people for questioning.

[UPDATE: 2012-07-04 16:05 BST] EFF's Trevor Timm appeared on The Alyona Show to discuss the ongoing investigation into WikiLeaks and renewed call to prosecute Julian Assange. He talks about how the WikiLeaks Grand Jury threatens the press freedoms of journalists everywhere. Watch the video below:

Icelandic MP and former WikiLeaks volunteer Birgitta Jónsdóttir has been warned not to visit the U.S. The Department of Justice previously attempted to hack her Twitter account due to her work with WikiLeaks. She comments:

The WTF (the CIA's WikiLeaks Task Force) has been building a case against Assange and others from WikiLeaks for two years. There is no doubt there is a grand jury in action. There is no doubt that the US wants to get even with WikiLeaks. Assange has every reason to worry about being extradited to the US, be it from Britain or Sweden, or any country that cannot or will not give him a guarantee against extradition. The best possible solution to the current situation is for Sweden to provide such guarantees. If there were the will, it could be done.

Read her full article via The Guardian.

Crikey's Bernard Keane wrote on the increasing U.S. Government harassment of WikiLeaks and Assange associates. He details the harassment of Jacob Appelbaum, Icelandic MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Jêrêmie Zimmermann, Smari McCarthy, WikiLeaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson, and filmmaker Laura Poitras.

U.S. Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich says Julian Assange is not being targeted by the U.S. According to him, Mr Assange could be extradited to the U.S. "as easily from the UK or from Sweden". These statements come despite an ongoing investigation into WikiLeaks and renewed calls for the prosecution of Mr Assange. Mr Assange stated in his interview from the Ecuadorian Embassy two weeks ago that WikiLeaks has "received subpoenas, the subpoenas mention my name". During testimony in Bradley Manning's court proceedings, Special Agent Mark Mander stated that seven civilians, including "founders, owners, or managers of WikiLeaks", are being targeting by the WikiLeaks Grand Jury.

Author William Blum wrote on "The Persecution of Julian Assange". He discusses how Ecuador and its president, Rafael Correa, will likely be targeted by the U.S. if they decide to provide Mr Assange asylum.

You think with the whole world watching, the United States would not intervene in Ecuador?

Read the full article via Counter Currents.

John Pilger was interviewed by Ecuadorian TV about Julian Assange and his decision to seek asylum. The interview is available to watch on YouTube (Spanish only).

[UPDATE: 2012-07-03 01:00 BST] RT America covered the evidence of the U.S. pursuit of Julian Assange. EFF's Trevor Timm is interviewed about the matter. Watch the video below:

Despite the renewed calls for U.S. prosecution of Julian Assange, and the Justice Department admitting a continued investigation into WikiLeaks, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr holds his belief that Mr Assange is of little interest to the U.S.

Glenn Greenwald wrote on the renewed calls to prosecute Mr Assange, commenting on how "there is no sense in which Feinstein’s denunciation applies to WikiLeaks but not to The New York Times".

Julian Assange's Swedish lawyer Per E Samuelson wrote an op-ed in The Guardian about how his client would not receive fair trial in Sweden.

This treatment is degrading. No one should be treated as guilty until proven innocent. There has been no trial, let alone conviction. Assange has not even been charged with any crime. And the situation makes it difficult for him to prepare his defence. If a defendant is placed in isolation they are allowed contact only with their defence lawyer. The prosecutor and complainants, however, can confer at length with witnesses and work out their strategies. Is there any acceptable reason why one of the parties be deprived of that opportunity?

Read the full article here.

[UPDATE: 23:30 BST] Mary Kostakidis, former anchor for SBS World News, gave an interview with Voice of Russia regarding Julian Assange's asylum bid. She discusses a letter she wrote to the Ecuadorian Government urging them to accept his application. She also discusses the support from the Ecuadorians, how Mr Assange is doing, and the Australian Government's failure to assist him.

[UPDATE: 2012-07-01 15:20 BST] Alongside the U.S. Justice Department confirming continued investigation into WikiLeaks, the Chariman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Dianne Feinstein, said the following in a written statement:

I believe Mr Assange has knowingly obtained and disseminated classified information which could cause injury to the United States. He has caused serious harm to US national security, and he should be prosecuted accordingly.

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