2012-06-29 Live Blog: Assange requests political asylum from Ecuador (Archive - Day 11)

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: 22:58 BST] RT America reported on the latest in Julian Assange's bid for asylum. Whistleblower Thomas Drake is interviewed about the matter. Watch the video below:

[UPDATE: 22:50 BST] B. J. Sachs, an Ecuador resident of 17 years, wrote on why people should support Julian Assange.

Yes, Julian Assange’s actions could have been easily predicted to arouse the extreme wrath of war makers the world over and their media mouthpieces. Duh, as they say. But the thing is this: Assange’s journalistic mission to expose secrets lies and war crimes won out over any fears he might have had for his personal safety. That is precisely what makes his actions heroic in my book, as well as those of the whistle blowers whose consciences propelled them to blow the whistle, that is to give us, the people, important information and therefore the tools to act. They are all heroic and worthy of our strong support in my book, and they are definitely less-than-loved-and-appreciated by the warmongers and war profiteers in government and industry. Thus there may already be a sealed indictment against Julian Assange, and very possibly for the capital crime of espionage punishable by death. It is certain that a grand jury has been impaneled and many subpoenas have been issued. Grand Jury proceedings are always secret, as are indictments until the prosecutor wishes to reveal or unseal them. If Assange is charged and tried for his heroism, we are all screwed. Totally.

Read the full article via CounterPunch.

[UPDATE: 20:32 BST] The US is looking to extradite a man in Sweden, who went AWOL from the Air Force nearly 30 years ago. He is not alleged to have committed any other crime besides going AWOL from the military in 1984.

[UPDATE: 19:20 BST] Here is the full video of Susan Benn's statement regarding Julian Assange's asylum bid made today. The transcript is in the update below.

[UPDATE: 16:58 BST] Here is the full statement made by Susan Benn today at 16:00 in front of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London:

Thank you for coming – My name is Susan Benn from the Julian Assange Defense Fund.

I have spoken to Julian today and he is in good spirits. He is grateful for the support shown to him by the people of Ecuador and so many others from around the world.

Yesterday Mr. Assange was served with a letter from the Metropolitan police service requesting that he surrender himself to the Belgravia police station at 11.30 this morning.

Mr Assange has been advised that he should decline to comply with the police request. This should not be considered any sign of disrespect. Under both international and domestic UK law asylum assessments take priority over extradition claims.

The issues faced by Mr. Assange are serious. His life and liberty and the life and liberty of his organization and those associated with it are at stake.

The United States Government has instigated a grand jury investigation against Julian Assange and other “founders or managers” of Wikileaks. Australian diplomats have described this investigation as being of “unprecedented scale and nature”. There is irrefutable evidence in the public record of subpoenas being issued and witnesses being compelled to testify against Mr. Assange. WikiLeaks, the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights and other groups have been fighting these subpeonas and other issues arising from the investigation in multiple US courts. US officials have said in open court that the FBI file about the investigation has now reached 42,135 pages. The US department of justice admitted yesterday that its investigation into WikiLeaks proceeds. It is only a matter of time before US authorities begin extradition proceedings against Julian and other leading members of WikiLeaks on various charges including conspiracy to commit espionage. There are credible reports that a sealed indictment has already been made against Mr. Assange. Under US law a sealed indictment can only be made public once Mr. Assange is in custody. For a US official to otherwise acknowledge the existence of a sealed indictment is a criminal offense. The Independent newspaper’s diplomatic correspondent reported that informal talks between the US and Sweden have been conducted.

It should be made clear what would happen if Julian was extradited to the USA. The United Nations special rapporteur for torture, Juan Mendez has formally found that the United States has subjected Julian Assange’s alleged source in this matter, the young soldier Bradley Manning, to conditions amounting to torture. The UN found that the United States subjected Bradley Manning to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”. Mr. Manning has been charged by the US government with the capital offense of “aiding the enemy” in relation to his alleged interaction with Mr. Assange. Bradley Manning has been detained without trial for two years and was placed into solitary confinement for 9 months in his cell for 23 hours a day, stripped naked and woken every 5 minutes. His lawyer and support team say these harsh measures were to coerce him into implicating Julian Assange.

So it is clear that there is a legal process in place which will result in taking Julian to the US, which if allowed to succeed would violate his basic rights.

It is accepted by the UK Supreme Court that Julian Assange has not been charged with any criminal offence in Sweden. It is also accepted that he was by told by Swedish authorities that he was free to leave Sweden. And it is also accepted that he has continuously offered to be interviewed by the Swedish authorities here in the UK, should they wish to do so. Although it is normal procedure, Swedish authorities have refused, without reason, to make the 3 hour trip to London and to interview Julian causing him to be trapped in the UK under virtual house arrest for 561 days and an additional 10 days in solitary confinement – all without charge. Instead they have issued an INTERPOL Red notice and extradition requests.

Julian and his legal team have previously sought assurances from both the UK government and the Swedish government that they will guarantee safe passage after the completion of legal interviews with Mr Assange and both have previously refused, although we are hopeful they will look at the matter again. The Swedish executive publicly announced on June 14 that it would detain Mr. Assange in prison without charge.

Once in Sweden under such grave restrictions it would be impossible for Mr. Assange to exercise his asylum rights.

Mr. Assange did not feel safe from US extradition in the UK. We are all too aware of the abuses of the US-UK extradition treaty. Although Mr. Assange has been trapped in the UK, under dangerous circumstances, he at least has had the freedom to apply for political asylum.

It is in this context that Julian has made the difficult decision to seek refuge inside the Ecuadorian Embassy to ask for asylum.

Julian will remain in the Embassy under the protection of the Ecuadorian government while evidence for his application is being assembled and processed.

For further accurate information about these issues, please see www.justice4assange.com

Thank you.

[UPDATE: 16:25 BST] Susan Benn of the Julian Assange Defence Fund make a statement regarding Mr Assange's current position. He is in good spirits and grateful for all the support. He has been advised not to go to the Metropolitan Police Station. The life and liberty of him and those associated with WikiLeaks are at stake, and it is only a matter of time before U.S. authorities begin extradition procedures. Mr Assange‬ will remain in the Embassy under the protection of the Ecuadorian Government while evidence for his application is processed.

We will have the full statement up when it is available.

[UPDATE: 15:43 BST] Christine Assange gave an exclusive interview with Urban Times regarding her son's bid for asylum. She discusses why he chose Ecuador, how he is doing, the Swedish allegations, the lack of support from the Australian Government, and more.

[UPDATE: 15:15 BST] WikiLeaks tweeted the following:

A lot of speculation is floating around about whether Mr Assange will give the statement himself, but at the moment the tweet is the only solid information available.

[UPDATE: 2012-06-29 02:33 BST] The Ecuadorian Embassy in London has issued a new statement regarding Julian Assange's asylum application:

We can confirm that this morning officers from the Metropolitan Police Service in London delivered a letter to Mr Assange via the Ecuadorian Embassy.

Separately, the South America Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has written to the Ecuadorian Embassy today, reaffirming their commitment to “promoting excellent bilateral relations between the Republic of Ecuador and the United Kingdom Government”

The Government of Ecuador will continue to foster good relations with the UK Government whilst assessing Mr Assanges application for asylum.

RT reported on the latest developments in Mr Assange's bid for asylum. They interviewed Sibel Edmonds, founder of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition. Watch the video below or read a summary here:

WikiLeaks tweeted the following:

Swedish police and prosecutors questioned a man in Serbia over an alleged murder, yet they still refuse all offers to question Julian Assange. He still remains willing to answer questions, even from within the Ecuadorian Embassy.

SomersetBean has created more posters in support of Julian Assange and his choice to seek asylum. He has made them about our article: "Dissecting the Smears: Assange's asylum bid", the sealed indictment against Assange, and a rally in Sydney on July 15. All posters are available at his blog.