Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks mastermind who is due to be extradited from the UK to Sweden for sexual crimes, has walked into the Embassy of Ecuador in London and asked for asylum, Reuters reports.
The embassy is said to be considering his request. Spanish language wire EFE reports that he is seeking asylum on the grounds of “persecution”.
Assange lost his final appeal to stay in the UK last week, the AP reports.
Ecuador offered Assange and WikiLeaks residency in 2010, so perhaps this isn’t the craziest plan in the world — but a lot has happened in the intervening years, and right now Ecuador is in the process of talks over trade treaties with the EU, so who knows.
UPDATE: The Embassy has issued a statement. Key line — “The decision to consider Mr Assange’s application for protective asylum should in no way be interpreted as the Government of Ecuador interfering in the judicial processes of either the United Kingdom or Sweden”.
UPDATE 2: The Ecuadorian government website has a Spanish-language statement that seems a little more sympathetic to Assange. A key part of the statement quotes Assange himself (Google-translated here):
Such statements make it impossible for my return to my home country and put me in a state of helplessness to be requested for questioning by the Kingdom of Sweden, where its top officials have openly attacked me, and investigated for political crimes in the United States of America, a country where the death penalty for such offenses is still in force. “
Yep, Assange just said he wanted asylum in Ecuador because of the US death penalty.
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