After much anticipation, Ecuador announced it will grant political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño made the announcement at 7am local time in Ecuador, 1pm London time, on August 16, 2012. As Justice for Assange explains:
Assange is currently under the protection of the Ecuadorean embassy. He has requested asylum based on a well-founded fear of persecution, torture or death in the United States in connection with the publication of truthful information of matters of interest to the public through his work with WikiLeaks.
The Twitter account for Justice for Assange (@swedenvsassange) wrote:
The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (@foreignoffice) reacted immediately to the announcement:
@foreignoffice: Under our law, with Mr Assange having exhausted all options of appeal UK authorities are under binding obligation to extradite him to Sweden
In response to these tweets, WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) wrote:
@wikileaks: Which is of course just spin. The UK is under a binding obligation to recognize asylum, the rights of refugees and its other UN agreements.
Netizens from Ecuador and all over the world have been discussing the matter since yesterday, August 15, when Ecuador received a letter from the UK. Patiño said on Wednesday, as reported by the BBC: “Today we received from the United Kingdom an express threat, in writing, that they might storm our embassy in London if we don't hand over Julian Assange.” WikiLeaks released a statement on this threat, pointing out that:
Any transgression against the sanctity of the embassy is a unilateral and shameful act, and a violation of the Vienna Convention, which protects embassies worldwide.
After news broke of this letter, Jacob Appelbaum (@ioerror) urged people in London to support Assange:
Meanwhile, human rights and foreign policy writer and analyst Josh Shahryar (@JShahryar) tweeted:
After Ecuador announced it would grant asylum to Assange, user @robertito1991 [es] from Guayaquil, Ecuador, wrote:
Others, like Elías Suárez (@Slashzer) [es], are suspicious:
@Slashzer: Algo quiere Correa que Assange tiene, no lo duden.
Yet others are celebrating and congratulating the Ecuadorian government, like David Jimenez Abad (@DavidJimenezA93) [es], from Cuenca, Ecuador:
As security researcher Dillan Beresford (@d1n) points out, this case is not over:
@d1n: It's not over yet. Political asylum *should* but does not guarantee Julian Assange safe passage into Ecuador.
The Guardian‘s live coverage recently reported that “Sweden has summoned Ecuador's ambassador to Stockholm, calling the granting of asylum to Assange ‘unacceptable.'”