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Ecuador Reacts to Assange Asylum

Categories: Latin America, Ecuador, United Kingdom, Breaking News, Citizen Media, Digital Activism, Freedom of Speech

WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, has been holed up [1] in the Embassy of Ecuador in London since June 19, 2012. As we reported earlier [2], on the morning of August 16, 2012, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño announced that his country would grant diplomatic asylum [3] to the creator of WikiLeaks. Ecuador has based its decision on 11 considerations [4].

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary William Hague [5] said that the United Kingdom will not grant a safe passage for Assange to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy, and stressed that the UK's legal obligation “is to extradite him to Sweden”, as reported by the BBC [6] [es].

Assange is wanted by the Swedish authorities for two alleged sex crimes [7] in 2010. In December of the same year, Assange was arrested by the British police on a warrant issued by Sweden. On December 16, 2010 he was granted a conditional bail that would keep him from leaving the country.

As Renata Avila explained for Global Voices Advocacy [8]:

Assange was facing imminent extradition to Sweden [9] for interrogation about sexual allegations he has not been charged for, where he would have been detained upon arrival in solitary with no right to bail, according to Fair Trials International [10]. At the last minute he decided to exercise his right of seeking asylum [11]. He walked into the Embassy of Ecuador and has stayed under diplomatic protection while the country's President Rafael Correa reviewed his case.

The Ecuadorean government based its decision on past [12] and current [13] attacks on WikiLeaks, its founder and even volunteers, which have been unprecedented both in scale and severity.

Assange supporters outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London on August 16, 2012. Photo by Yanice Idir, copyright Demotix. [14]

Assange supporters outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London on August 16, 2012. Photo by Yanice Idir, copyright Demotix.

Efren Guerrero of the Aura Neurotica [15] [es] blog wrote about the case before the announcement of the decision to grant asylum to Assange. Efren explained Ecuador's two options if asylum was granted:

 a. Dejar de manera indefinida al asilado en al embajada en Londres, o b. Transportarlo a territorio ecuatoriano. En el segundo caso hay la necesidad de un salvoconducto, que como han indicado las autoridades inglesas, no se va a dar.
La Corte Internacional de Justicia subrayó en varios fallos que “la seguridad que surge del asilo no puede ser interpretada como una protección contra la aplicación regular de las leyes y contra la jurisdicción de los tribunales legalmente constituidos “.

a. Indefinitely leave the exiled person at the embassy in London, or b. Transport him to Ecuadorian territory. In the second case there is need for a pass, which as indicated by the English authorities will not happen.
The International Court of Justice stated in several rulings that “the security that comes of asylum can not be interpreted as a protection against the regular application of laws and against the jurisdiction of legally constituted tribunals.”

Twitter reactions on the part of Ecuadorians have been mixed. For example, Mauricio Rodriguez (@maurisec [16]) [es] opined:

@maurisec [17]: #asiloassange [18] Bien sustentados “argumentos” del asilo pero no lo justifica. No m siento representado x estos “dignatarios” y sus decisiones

(@maurisec [16]) [es]: #asiloassange [19] well supported “arguments” for asylum but it is not warranted. I do not feel represented by these “dignitaries” and their decisions.

Ivanna Rodriguez Mori ‏(@irodriguezmori [20]) [es] has dedicated several tweets [21] [es] to the subject, showing her disagreement with the decision of the Ecuadorian government:

@irodriguezmori [22] [es]: Rebuscar leyes internacionales para otorgar asilo o velar por los derechos de una persona que no lo merece. Ese es mi Ecuador.

@irodriguezmori [22] [es]: Rummaging though international law to grant asylum or to ensure the rights of a person who does not deserve it. That's my Ecuador.

Referring to freedom of expression in the country, Jorge Gonzalez (@clever_george [23]) [es] writes:

@clever_george [24]#AsiloAssange [25], hablan tanto de libertad de expresión cuando en nuestro propio país NO EXISTE!!!

@clever_george [24] [es]: #AsiloAssange [26], they talk so much about freedom of expression when in our own country IT DOESN'T EXIST!

Journalist Xavier Reyes (@xavivire [27]) [es] asks from Quito:

@xavivire [28]: El presidente q rompe periódicos, q enjuicia e insulta a periodistas, q solo acepta SU verdad da asilo a #Assange [29]… ¿Paradojas? ¿intereses?

@xavivire [28] [es]: The President that destroys newspapers, that prosecutes and insults journalists, that only accepts HIS truth grants asylum to #Assange [30] … Paradoxes? Interests?

Similarly, journalist Marce Riera (@marceriera [31]) [es] asks:

@marceriera [32]: Y los periodistas ecuatorianos seremos igualmente defendidos por el gobierno en algún momento??? #AsiloAssange [25]

@marceriera [32] [es]: And Ecuadorian journalists, will we be defended in the same manner by the government at some point??? #AsiloAssange [26]

However, on the same subject, Carlos Wiilkapy  ‏(@ve_to [33]) [es] tweets:

Supporters of Julian Assange outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on August 16, 2012. Photo by Yanice Idir, copyright Demotrix. [34]

Supporters of Julian Assange outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on August 16, 2012. Photo by Yanice Idir, copyright Demotrix.

@ve_to [35]: Todos los Periodistas Ecuatorianos se Creen Igual de victimas #asiloassange [18]

@ve_to [35] [es]: All Ecuadorian journalists believe themselves to be victims #asiloassange [26]

Various Twitter users defended the decision of the government, like Chelo Moreira (@moreirachelo [36]) [es]:

@moreirachelo [37]: Lo felicito una vez mas Presidente q orgullo ser ecuatoriano y q nos represente se ve lo humanista q es al darle #asiloassange [18] @MashiRafael [38]

@moreirachelo [37] [es]: I congratulate you once again President. Proud to be Ecuadorian and that you represent us. We see the humanist that you are for granting Assange asylum #asiloassange [26] @MashiRafael [38]

Meanwhile, Assange fans feel happy in Ecuador, as evidenced by Jose Rafael ‏(@raphael7252 [39]) [es] and Felipe Ortiz (@Felo_777 [40]) [es]:

@Felo_777 [41]: Julian Assange es un héroe contemporáneo #freeassange [42]#asiloassange [18]

@Felo_777 [41] [es]: Julian Assange is a contemporary hero #freeassange [42]#asiloassange [18]

Others, like @oscgamb [43] [es], celebrated:

@oscgamb [44]: que viva ecuador como patria soberana!!! #Asiloassange [18]

@oscgamb [44] [es]: Long live Ecuador as a sovereign nation! #Asiloassange [18]

The newspaper El Comercio [45] [es] reports that Assange's mother, Christine Assange, thanked Ecuador for granting asylum, “but is concerned about the fate of her son.”

Ecuador has called for urgent meetings [46] [es] with the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR [47]), the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA [48]) and the Organization of American States (OAS [49]) to discuss Assange's case.