2012-06-20 Live Blog: Assange requests political asylum from Ecuador (Archive - Day 2)

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: 22:33 BST] Daniel Ellsberg has come out in support of Julian Assange's decision to seek asylum. He stated:

Political asylum was made for cases like this. Freedom for Julian in Ecuador would serve the cause of freedom of speech and of the press worldwide. It would be good for us all; and it would be cause to honor, respect and thank Ecuador.

Others who have come out in support of Mr Assange's decision include Coleen Rowley and Ray McGovern.

[UPDATE: 22:05 BST] A petition has been started in support of Julian Assange's request for asylum. It also asks that the U.S. does not intervene if Ecuador accepts his application. Currently it has 1,200 signatories.

A second petition is also available at RootsAction.

A vigil for Mr Assange was held in front of the DFAT in Brisbane, June 20th. A rally is also taking place at the DFAT in Sydney on June 21st, 5-7PM.

[UPDATE: 20:25 BST] Kier Simmons of ITV News spoke with Kristinn Hrafnsson. According to him, Julian Assange will be spending another night at the Ecuadorian Embassy.

Jason Farrell of Sky News also spoke with Mr Hrafnsson and will have more information shortly.

Australian journalist Mary Kostakidis wrote to the Ecuadorian Embassy expressing her concern for Julian Assange and asking that Ecuador grant him asylum.

[UPDATE: 18:20 BST] Kristinn Hrafnsson has come out from the Ecuadorian Embassy and is currently speaking with the media. (image via @trh_humunculus)

[UPDATE: 17:50 BST] Jesselyn Radack from the Government Accountability Project was on RT discussing Julian Assange's application for asylum. She discusses the real risks he faces in the U.S., where the Obama Administration has been waging a "war on whistleblowers".

[UPDATE: 16:10 BST] WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson has arrived. at the Ecuadorian Embassy.

Julian Assange's U.S. lawyer Michael Ratner was on Democracy Now! discussing Mr Assange's decision to seek political asylum in Ecuador. He discusses the real risks that Mr Assange faces if extradited to the U.S., and the refusal by the Australian Government to provide assurances that he wouldn't be extradited there.

labSurlab and other organizations published a press release urging Ecuador to support Mr Assange's request for asylum. The letter is available in its original Spanish, and an English translation is available as well.

[UPDATE: 14:50 BST] UK Pirate Party leader Loz Kaye appeared on RT discussing Julian Assange's application for asylum and the threat of U.S. extradition.

Glenn Greenwald wrote an op-ed for The Guardian about Mr Assange's right to seek asylum and why his concerns about U.S. extradition and prosecution are justified.

Supporters of Mr Assange and members of the media are currently in front of the Ecuadorian Embassy. (Images via George Sargent)

BBC published a "Q & A" about Mr Assange and diplomatic asylum. Anthony Aust, who served in the British Diplomatic Service for 35 years, said there was "no physical way to get Mr Assange from the embassy to Ecuador itself without the risk of him being arrested by UK police".

[UPDATE: 13:35 BST] The Embassy of Ecuador in London has posted official contact details relating to Julian Assange's asylum application:

"Please use 0207 590 2503 or ecuembpress@gmail.com"

NYT eXaminer reported on Mr Assange's request, commenting on The New York Times' use of "protective asylum" rather than "political asylum".

Graphic artist Somerset Bean has created a badge design in support of Mr Assange's decision to seek asylum.

[UPDATE: 13:07 BST] RT published an exclusive interview with Julian Assange's mother, Christine. She discusses his decision to seek asylum and his abandonment by the Australian government.

Another journalist has spoken with Gavin MacFadyen, reiterating previous comments that Mr Assange is doing well and in good spirits.

[UPDATE: 12:54 BST] A police spokeswoman stated that Julian Assange is subject to arrest under the Bail Act for breaching his curfew restriction. Police were seen entering and leaving the Embassy on the night of June 19. The Foreign Office said Mr Assange was "beyond the reach of the police" as he is in an embassy and on diplomatic territory.

Gavin McFayden visited Julian Assange and said he is in good spirits and staying in a room with a bed and TV, according to journalist Paraic O'Brien.

RT continues it's coverage of Mr Assange's request for asylum, interviewing political campaigner Peter Tatchell.

Julian Burnside was interviewed on ABC Radio about Mr Assange seeking asylum.

ABC's The Drum also discussed Mr Assange's decision for asylum, with panelists Joe Hildebrand from the Daily Telegraph, Jessica Irvine from the Sydney Morning Herald, ABC Radio National Sunday Extra presenter Jonathan Green, and Ecuador's Ambassador to Australia Raul Gangotena.

UK Friends of WikiLeaks have drafted a letter to the Ecuadorian Embassy regarding Julian Assange's decision to seek asylum and are asking that supporters mail it.

Nearly 17 hours after WikiLeaks made the announcement that Mr Assange was seeking asylum, and his name continues to trend on Twitter.

[UPDATE: 08:45 BST] Vaughan Smith tweeted a correction to BBC's quotation of him: "My BBC quote on ‪#Assange‬ asylum is wrong. A well-funded campaign to undermine him for nearly 2 years, not just a few months."

[UPDATE: 07:55 BST] Australian journalist Phillip Dorling reported on what would happen in the event that Julian Assange's asylum is accepted, or if it is denied:

In the event Ecuador grants Mr Assange asylum, any movement outside the Ecuadorean Embassy would be subject to negotiation and agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and Ecuador.

Should his application be rejected, he would be most likely be arrested once he left the embassy and his extradition to Sweden would proceed.

Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam approached the Senate regarding WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and whether the Australian Government would prevent attempts by the U.S. to extradite and prosecute him. Chris Evans, acting representative for Prime Minister, first answered the question with jokes about Twitter, and then gave a vague answer.

[UPDATE: 05:00 BST] Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard commented on Julian Assange's decision to request political asylum. She said he can make his own decisions and that the Australian Government will continue to provide him consular support. Though the lack of support from the Australian Government is one of the reasons Mr Assange has chosen to seek asylum in Ecuador.

Crikey's Guy Rundle has also covered the news, explaining why it is reasonable for Mr Assange to be seeking asylum.

[UPDATE: 04:40 BST] Julian Assange (sometimes #Assange) has been trending on Twitter since the announcement nine hours ago. Ecuador and #WikiLeaks have also trended.

Australian citizens will be protesting at the Sydney DFAT against their Government's poor treatment of Mr Assange on June 21, 5PM.

As a reminder of the threat Mr Assange faces from the U.S., there is a list of political figures who have called for his assassination.

[UPDATE: 03:42 BST] Jacob Appelbaum has posted his letter to the Government of Ecuador, urging them to grant Julian Assange asylum.

The Alyona Show covered Mr Assange's request for asylum during its "Main Stream Miss" section. Watch the video below.

[UPDATE: 03:40 BST] Filmmaker Michael Moore put out a statement regarding Julian Assange's request for political asylum. Here is his statement in full:

BREAKING: The Ecuadorian embassy in London has just given sanctuary to WikiLeaks' Jullian Assange. He is asking them for political assylum (which they had offered him in the past). Well, thank you Ecuador! IMHO, there is no doubt that if the UK sends him to Sweden, Sweden will send him to the USA. Sweden says they "just want to talk to him" about the accusations leveled at him (he has still not been charged with any crime). If Swedish police want to question him, there is an SAS flight that leaves Stockholm at 7:55 tomorrow morning (flight #525) to London. I'm sure the British authorities would have no problem with the Swedish police questioning Mr. Assange. Then Sweden can decide if it wants to charge him with a crime. Any and all allegations of sexual abuse by anyone and to anyone MUST be treated very seriously, and Mr. Assange should cooperate with the inquiry. But it appears that Sweden has little interest in these charges - what they really want is the ability to extradite Assange to America. And that, simply, must not happen.

Many supporters have been writing to the Embassy of Ecuador in London to voice their support for Mr Assange. You can do so via an online form at their official website. An email address is listed, but all emails seem to be bouncing.

[UPDATE: 01:55 BST] Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam was on ABC discussing Julian Assange's decision to seek asylum. He said Mr. Assange's concerns are well-founded after being labeled a terrorist by the U.S. Vice President and Stratfor emails revealing a sealed indictment against him. Watch the interview below.

Senator Ludlam also spoke in front of the Senate doors on the matter.

[UPDATE: 2012-06-20 00:30 BST] WikiLeaks has published an effective "declaration of abandonment" from the Australian Government, which refuses to protect Julian Assange or make any requests on his behalf.