2012-06-22 Live Blog: Assange requests political asylum from Ecuador (Archive - Day 4)

This is part of our live-coverage on Julian Assange's request for political asylum. The most recent news is available here. 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: 17:40 BST] There is still no indication of when Ecuador will make its decision on whether or not to grant Julian Assange political asylum. Democracy Now! and RT's The Big Picture reported on the latest:

@RTLondonBureau and @SaraFirth_RT have been tweeting from outside the Ecuadorian Embassy. WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson visited again today, John Pilger, journalist and friend of Mr Assange. Supporters continue holding a vigil outside the embassy.

Many articles have been coming out in support of Mr Assange's decision to seek asylum. James McEnteer, an author who lives in Quito, says "Come to Ecuador, Julian!" while journalist Ron Ridenour at Dissident Voice tells his readers to "Unite with Julian Assange". An article in OpEdNews explains "Why Americans Support Julian Assange and his Quest for Asylum in Ecuador".

While Mr Assange has been at the Embassy, the Progetto Winston Smith organisation awarded him "for his exceptional dedication to the promotion of transparency and public disclosure in the interest of civil society and human rights".

An article at the Washington Post from the editorial board, insinuating that Ecuador would face dire economic difficulties were it to accept Mr Assange into asylum:

There is one potential check on Mr. Correa's ambitions. The U.S. "empire" he professes to despise happens to grant Ecuador (which uses the dollar as its currency) special trade preferences that allow it to export many goods duty-free. A full third of Ecuadoran foreign sales ($10 billion in 2011) go to the United States, supporting some 400,000 jobs in a country of 14 million people. Those preferences come up for renewal by Congress early next year. If Mr. Correa seeks to appoint himself America's chief Latin American enemy and Julian Assange's protector between now and then, it's not hard to imagine the outcome.

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern was interviewed about Mr Assange's decision to seek asylum, discussing the Washington Post's comment mentioned above.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam asked the Australian Government to explain its statements denouncing WikiLeaks. Watch the video below.

[UPDATE: 06:45 BST] I4U News put out a collection of photos related to Julian Assange's application for asylum. The photos include pictures of WikiLeaks staff and supporters outside the Ecuadorian Embassy and a photo of activists in Ecuador demonstrating in Quito (pictured below).

In the Washington Post poll about whether Julian Assange should receive asylum, the percentage of "yes" voters has constantly gone up. It currently stands that 87% of people believe Mr Assange should be allowed to leave Britain for asylum in Ecuador.

[UPDATE: 05:30 BST] RT America went over the many assassination threats from U.S. political figures directed toward Julian Assange:

An Ecuador TV Channel of the National Public Network is going to televise the episode of "The World Tomorrow" in which Julian Assange interviewed President Rafael Correa.

Professor of International Law Donald Rothwell was interviewed about Mr Assange's application for asylum, saying, if his application is granted, he may not have diplomatic status under the Vienna Convention that could get him to an airport in an Ecuadorian Embassy car.

[UPDATE: 04:50 BST] Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa was asked a question about Julian Assange's request for asylum during a conference in Rio. Below are tweets from Manuel Beltrán, who was translating the President's comments into English:

"Julian Assange, as crazy as to refuge in our embassy" "The censorship imposed to Assange" Correa about #Assange

"Ecuador loves the peace, the truth, we cannot accept this persecution for the ideas of #Assange" - #Correa

"There are conversations going on, we dont want confrontations with other countries like UK, we are analyzing the situation"#Assange

Journalist: "2 years ago the president said that maybe #Assange did something ilegal but the end was good" President Correa denies it.

The tone of president Correa sounds like the aceptance of the asylum it's just a matter of time. #Assange

"Assange will stay all the time he wants or needs under the protection of the Ecuatorian Embassy" Words of president Correa! #Wikileaks

The president doesn't say so much new about #Assange but gives a image of Ecuador as a freedom speech supporter country.

"Decision will take into account international laws and the traditional policy of Ecuador to safeguarding human rights" #Assange

Correa didn't replied a journalist about how the process of transferring #Assange from UK to Ecuador will happen.

We will post full text of President Correa's answer should it become available.

[UPDATE: 03:10 BST] Lawyer and human rights activist Kellie Tranter wrote an article detailing why Julian Assange's decision to seek asylum from Ecuador shouldn't be so surprising. She gives reasons why Ecuador is a good choice and the effects that WikiLeaks cables have had on the country. She also comments on the lack of support Australia has provided to Mr Assange.

A letter written by Australian journalist Austin Mackell was read at the recent rally for Julian Assange in Sydney. Here is an excerpt:

I would like to start once more by saying how honoured I am that the organisers sought to include my sentiments in today's events, and for the continuous support I have received from so many of those who also fight for Assange and Wikileaks.

For those of you unfamiliar with my case, I am an Australian journalist who was arrested in Mahalla, a textile town outside of Cairo, while trying to interview a union leader. My colleagues and I were held for a total of 56 hours by the police, the state security services and military intelligence, as well as a few hours in the care of the general prosecutor's office, where we were charged with inciting vandalism. Specifically it is alleged we promised to give money to children if they threw rocks at a police station. The charges carry a maximum penalty of seven years in prison. Four months has passed without a decision about whether to set a trial date or let us go. While embassy staff have done all they can without leadership from Canberra, the Australian government is yet to speak out or act on my behalf.

It is my belief that one reason for their reluctance, is that by acting on my behalf, they would be setting their failure to act on Assange in too sharp a contrast. It is a reminder, one that should be heeded by the Australian press in particular, that giving up on the freedom of one, not only morally, but also practically, compromises the freedom of all.

The full letter is available at Austin Mackell's website.

A public forum on "WikiLeaks, Assange, & Democracy" will be held at the Coombs Theatre, A.N.U., Canberra, June 27 at 7PM. Speakers include Christine Assange, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, Crikey journalist Bernard Keane, historian Humphrey McQueen, former Guantanamo detainee David Hicks, and human rights & social justice advocate Aloysia Brooks. The event will be chaired by former SBS World News presenter Mary Kostakidis. A live-stream will be available via the Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition.

[UPDATE: 01:58 BST] A statement of support by Phillip Adams was read at the Sydney rally for Julian Assange:

Rupert Murdoch used to be Australia's most famous/notorious media identity on the international stage. A little while ago, he was pushed off the pedestal by Julian Assange, with News Ltd eclipsed by WikiLeaks. We're dealing with two very different success stories and degrees of notoriety. Many of us find the situation amusing, if it wasn't so damned serious. Rupert, of course, can look after himself, but Assange needs our ongoing help and concern. How sad that Julian had to seek asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy. But then he'd find it hard to get any asylum in the Australian Embassy. Instead of an immense surge of Australian pride for Assange's contribution to what's left of democracy, we seem intent on aiding and abetting the U.S. in its attempts to ensnare him in their legal - and I use the term 'legal' very loosely - tentacles.

I first became aware of Julian's genius for creative subterfuge on Late Night Live many years ago when he was a most ingenious hacker. A little later he asked me to be the Australian representative on the advisory board of something called WikiLeaks and, impressed with the concept, I was delighted to agree. Over the years he's never asked mr to advise him on anything, but let me advise him now, or at least repeat what I've said to him and about him on a number of recent programs. You, Julian Assange, are a remarkable person and your creation - a sort of Freedom of Information service on a planetary scale - has been of crucial importance in the endless struggle to keep our political leaders, and their military cohorts, under control. My advice to you? Keep you chin up. For every powerful enemy you have countless thousands of friends, as today's rally demonstrates.

A petition (in Spanish) has been created at Avaaz calling for Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa to accept Julian Assange's request for political asylum.

A massive rally in support of Julian Assange will be on the steps of the State Library in Melbourne, July 1 starting at 1PM. Speakers include Adam Bandt MP (deputy leader of the Australian Greens), Patrick O'Connor (SEP candidate), Lizzie O'Shea (human rights lawyer), Robbie Thorpe (indigenous activist), Daniel Mathews (founding member of WikiLeaks). Rap News will also be making a special live appearance.

RT covered the latest news in Julian Assange's request for asylum, with RT Web Producer Andrew Blake. Watch the segment below.

RT America also reported on the latest events, with their London correspondent Sarah Firth:

[UPDATE: 00:50 BST] Gavin MacFadyen of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism gave an interview about Julian Assange's request for asylum in Ecuador. He mentions the good atmosphere he experienced at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, including the helpful staff. He contests claims that supporters are moving away from Mr Assange after his decision to seek asylum. He also discussed the hostile environment towards WikiLeaks and Mr Assange currently present in the U.S. Read the full interview at Publica.

[UPDATE: 2012-06-22 00:04 BST] Transcript of Julian Assange's interview from the Ecuadorian Embassy is now available. In the interview Mr Assange discusses why he chose to seek asylum from Ecuador, his abandonment by the Australian Government, and evidence from the U.S. grand jury into WikiLeaks.

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