Ecuador has granted asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange because it believes he will be politically persecuted if extradited, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño announced Thursday.
The UK, meanwhile, has said it is disappointed by the decision and will not grant safe passage out of the country to Assange, who has been holed up inside Ecuador’s embassy in London for nearly two months.
“Under our law, with Mr. Assange having exhausted all options of appeal, the British authorities are under a binding obligation to extradite him to Sweden. We shall carry out that obligation. The Ecuadorian government’s decision this afternoon does not change that. We remain committed to a negotiated solution that allows us to carry out our obligations under the Extradition Act,” said a statement from the British Foreign Office.
Patiño preceded his announcement with a lengthy argument against any British action against Ecuador’s embassy in London. In remarks Wednesday, he said the Ecuadorian government had received a written notice from British authorities that they would “assault” the country’s embassy in London if Ecuadorian officials failed to hand over Assange to British authorities.
“We are not a British colony,” he said. “Those times are passed.”