Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has apparently broken his bail conditions and fled to Ecuador’s embassy in London and asked for asylum.
It seems that he he did not really give a monkeys for those who raised £200,000 bail for him and legged it when he had the opportunity.
Assange is trying to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex crime accusations. He thinks that if he gets there the Swedes will turn him over to the Americans to face spying charges.
Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said yesterday that his country would weigh the request from the self-styled anti-secrecy campaigner.
Assange has been fighting extradition to Sweden for 18-months. He is wanted for questioning about allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two female former WikiLeaks volunteers.
Assange picked Ecuador because it is has a leftist and anti-Washington president Rafael Correa.
While he might miff the Americans over the move, he has also embarrassed the British government and may well have caused his wealthy backers to lose their bail money.
There is also a risk that Ecuador might not want to have anything to do with him. In 2010 Ecuador invited Assange to seek residency there but quickly backed away from the idea, accusing him of breaking US laws.
In this situation, Ecuador says that Assange’s application for protective asylum should not be interpreted as the Government of Ecuador interfering in the judicial processes of either the United Kingdom or Sweden.
The country does have an extradition treaty with the US but it does not cover political charges. Ecuador has to satisfy itself that the charges against Assange are political and not criminal. This might be a bit tricky as he has not been charged with a political crime.
Assange complained that his home country of Australia had abandoned him and refused to defend him. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Australian consular officials would continue to assist Assange, adding Australia opposed any extradition of Australian citizens on charges which carry the death penalty.
Assange said that he is being requested to be interrogated by the Kingdom of Sweden, where its top officials have openly attacked him.
Assange fears extradition “to a country where espionage and treason are punished with the death penalty”.
Sweden does not have the death penalty and there are some pretty stiff European extradition laws against him being sent to the US if he is to face the death penalty. Neither Sweden nor the United States has charged him with treason or spying.
The lawyer for the two female former WikiLeaks volunteers who made the complaints against Assange said he was not surprised by Assange’s latest move but expected Ecuador to reject the asylum request.
The lawyer’s opinion is that Assange has tried to avoid facing the music for his treatment of two women and make it all about Wikileaks and the CIA. It isn’t, and he will be extradited, the lawyer told Reuters.