By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, August 26, 2012 10:19 EDT
QUITO — Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa said he believed his country had overcome a diplomatic spat with Britain over its threat to enter the Ecuadoran Embassy in London in order to arrest Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
“We believe that this unfortunate incident is over,” said Correa. “It was a mistake for the British Foreign Office to say that they would enter our embassy.”
“It’s good that the United Kingdom has given up its threat,” he continued. “Now we act as if we never received it. We must seek a mutually acceptable solution of the case of Julian Assange through dialogue.”
The president added that he was glad the two countries “were returning to the path of dialogue and were looking for a consensual solution without abandoning our principles.”
Assange is facing rape and sexual assault allegations from two women from Stockholm. Having exhausted all his legal options in Britain to avoid extradition to Sweden, he walked into the Ecuadoran embassy on June 19 and claimed asylum.
The 41-year-old Australian fears he would be passed on to the United States, which he enraged by releasing a vast cache of its confidential government files.
With Assange holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague pointed out to Quito an obscure 1987 law under which its police could enter the mission and extract Assange.
Julian Assange arrest plan revealed accidentally
August 25, 2012
Plans to seize Julian Assange “under all circumstances” the moment he leaves the Ecuadorean embassy in London have accidentally been revealed by a police officer displaying restricted documents outside the embassy.
The document, pictured under the officer’s arm by a Press Association photographer, appears to advocate arresting the WikiLeaks founder whether he leaves the building in a diplomatic bag or in a diplomatic car.
The handwritten plan was recorded at a police briefing and only partially covered by the officer’s arm as he arrived at the embassy in Knightsbridge on Friday.
‘UK threat to storm our embassy still in force’ – Ecuador FM Patino to RT (EXCLUSIVE)
Published: 23 August, 2012, 18:48
Edited: 23 August, 2012, 21:48
Ecuador is still concerned over the UK’s threat to storm its embassy in London. In an exclusive interview to RT, the country’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said that Ecuador will not tolerate what it sees as a clear breach of international law.
RT: What does Ecuador think about the huge support it has received from ALBA and UNASUR countries, apart from the support of many social movements and activists who spoke in favor of giving Julian Assange political asylum?
Ricardo Patino: We are grateful for the immediate support we received from the foreign ministers of Latin America, Caribbean states and ALBA member states. We got convincing and prompt support from ALBA and UNASUR countries. We hope to get the same kind of support on Friday at the meeting of the Organization of American States members.
We had the support of the Forum of Sao Paulo that includes left-wing parties from across Latin America and the Caribbean and other political bodies such as COPAL and the Socialist International organization. So almost all the left-wing or centrist or leftist-centrist parties took the side of the Ecuadorian government.
It is also worth saying that such people as Michael Moore, Oliver Stone and Nobel Peace laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel backed our decision to grant political asylum. They stood up against the blatant threat of the UK to raid the Ecuadorian embassy and arrest Julian Assange. We are grateful for this support.
RT: What can you say about the UK’s threat to break into your London embassy? Will you continue negotiations with the British government? Can the embassy be considered a safe haven or is it still under threat?
RP: We are still very concerned about it, as the threat remains in force. The UK has not denied it so far. On the contrary, they’ve announced that they still have an obligation to extradite Mr. Assange to Sweden no matter what – without taking into account the decision of the Ecuadorian government. They openly show their disrespect for Ecuador’s position, and we are worried they will go ahead with their threat, but hope it would not happen.
I believe that the stance of all other Latin American countries along with Ecuador is crystal clear. We will not accept any violation of our embassy rules as it would be a breach of international law, of international treaties which clearly call for respect for the diplomatic immunity of embassies all over the world. That commitment is set forth by the UN Charter and Vienna Convention in particular.
Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino gestures during a press conference in Quito, on August 16, 2012. Ecuador announced Thursday it has decided to grant political asylum to Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who sought refuge in the country’s embassy in London to avert extradition to Sweden. (AFP Photo/Rodrigo Buendia)
‘We want the UK to present their apologies in written form’
RT: Are you going to bring the issue up at the Security Council or the International Court of Justice in The Hague? Or do you think you will be able to find a solution during the negotiations with the UK?
RP: We hope so. First, we really want the UK to present their apologies for this threat in written form or, at least, admit that it was a mistake. And only then will we be ready to negotiate on the issue. We hope it will be enough to find a solution. We believe the UK understands how important it is to give one a chance for rescue, so that a person wouldn’t have to stay in an embassy for decades.
We also believe they will accept Ecuador’s sovereign decision. In case they don’t, we will nevertheless be able to find a way out. Apparently, then we’ll have to turn to the International Court of Justice to be able to ensure safe passage for Mr. Assange.
RT: Do you think the strong support of Latin America for Ecuador is enough to prevent a possible attack on its sovereignty by the UK? Or maybe there’s a need for an international organization to intervene?
RP: It is difficult to answer this question, because when Ecuador decided to consider an asylum request by Mr. Assange, it made sure that it had the support of the ALBA and UNASUR countries. And now it also has the support of the Organization of American States. We hope that international organizations in our regions of the world will also take a stand. We are working on it. We hope that the UK realizes that it has made a grave mistake and that the best way to right this wrong is to not only give up its threats, but also to help resolve this situation.
RT: Is it possible that the UK and Latin America will sever ties? How would it affect Ecuador’s economy?
RP: I don’t know. I can’t predict the future. Of course, if the British authorities decide to invade our embassy, the consequences will be very serious. It will prompt a response from all Latin American countries, not just Ecuador. But I don’t think anything like that will happen at this point. Our trade and investment volume with the UK is not very significant, but we value our bilateral relations nonetheless. We think that these relations are very important, as important as our ties with all other countries. The current government has worked hard to expand cooperation with them. Our foreign policy was not balanced before – I called it a “distorted map of the world”. Ecuador used to focus on the US and Europe. We still see these relations as important, but they should not be our only partners.
Now Ecuador has stronger ties with Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the whole of Latin America. This also gives us more freedom to make independent decisions, because fortunately we don’t depend on other countries. It doesn’t mean that we don’t value our relations with the UK. But the world is much bigger.
RT: What will your next step be? Do you have a plan on how to take Julian Assange to Ecuador? Will you still need to negotiate it with the UK?
RP: Of course, the only way to move Assange to Ecuador is to get permission for safe passage from the UK. This is our main goal. I hope we will be able to get it by negotiating with the British authorities, discussing the issue in a friendly atmosphere.
A picture taken on August 19, 2012 shows posters pledging support for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange before his address, outsite the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. (AFP Photo/Will Oliver)
Ecuador president says UK has no right to lecture over Assange… after its failure to extradite Pinochet a decade ago
- Chilean dictate for granted right to stay in UK in 2000
- Correa is part of a leftist alliance of Latin American leaders against U.S.
By Phil Vinter
PUBLISHED: 10:05 EST, 23 August 2012 | UPDATED: 11:42 EST, 23 August 2012
Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa says Britain is not in a position to preach about its decision to offer asylum to Julian Assange when it failed to extradite former Chilean President Augusto Pinochet.
Correa has infuriated British officials by offering protection at the Ecuador embassy in London to the Wikileaks founder who is wanted for sex assault and rape allegations in Sweden.
The South American nation’s socialist leader says he shares the former computer hacker’s fears that he could be sent from Sweden to the U.S. to face charges over WikiLeak’s publication in 2010 of thousands of secret U.S. cables.
Both U.S. and European government sources say no criminal charges against Assange have been issued by the U.S. and that Washington has launched no attempt to extradite him.
Britain says it is determined to fulfill a legal obligation to send Assange to Sweden.
But Correa said London had made its own rules in the past – specifically, by not extraditing Pinochet, who was charged with multiple human rights violations.
‘Pinochet was not extradited for humanitarian reasons, when there were dozens of Europeans and thousands of Latin Americans who were murdered, and tens of thousands of people were tortured during the Pinochet dictatorship,’ he told reporters in the country’s capital Quito.
Pinochet was arrested by British police at a hospital in London in 1998 after Spain demanded his extradition for alleged torture and murder, including of Spanish citizens, during his 1973-1990 rule.
The British government decided in 2000 that the frail Pinochet was unfit to stand trial and free to fly home. He died six years later in Santiago, Chile, aged 91.
‘If Pinochet was not extradited for humanitarian reasons then it’s clear that they can take the decision not to extradite Mr. Julian Assange,’ Correa said.
The British government decided in 2000 that the frail Pinochet was unfit to stand trial and free to fly home. He died six years later in Santiago, Chile, aged 91. He is seen here receiving a visit by Margaret Thatcher in Wentworth
Correa is part of a leftist alliance of Latin American leaders that includes Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales who have taken a critical line against the U.S. in recent years and have strengthened ties with China, Russia and Iran.
The Ecuadorean government remains angry at a veiled threat by Britain to enter its embassy and arrest Assange. On Tuesday Correa denounced it as ‘rude, impertinent and unacceptable.’
But on Wednesday he repeated that Ecuador was ready to negotiate over the 41-year-old’s fate.
Ecuador’s government wants Assange to receive written assurances that he would not be extradited from Sweden to a third country.
‘We have always been open to dialogue and we are still open to dialogue,’ the president said.
Assange lawyer has ‘surprising’ key info on rape claims: report
By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, August 23, 2012 4:28 EDT
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s lawyer Thursday said he had key information relating to the rape claims his client was facing which would be surprising when revealed, a report said.
Baltasar Garzon, who spent hours in a briefing with Assange on Sunday discussing his legal strategy, said the defence had requested a prosecutor from Sweden travel to London to take a statement from the former hacker.
“I think that will be a very good option,” he was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.
The 41-year-old Australian, who has been holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London since June, is wanted in Sweden for questioning over allegations of rape and molestation, claims he denies.
British authorities won their case to extradite him to Sweden but because he sought asylum in Ecuador’s embassy they have so far been unable to send him there.
Assange believes Stockholm plans to hand him over to the United States, where he fears prosecution over WikiLeaks’ release of a vast cache of confidential US government files
Garzon, best known for trying to extradite Chile’s Augusto Pinochet from London to Madrid in 1998, declined to go into specifics on the rape claims but said there was “fragmented knowledge” about the matter.
He reportedly said the defence was in possession of a number of fundamental elements about the allegations that when made public would be a “big surprise”.
“We cannot divulge them right now but we have requested that the prosecution take a statement from Mr. Assange,” he said on the sidelines of a conference in the Australian city of Brisbane.
Meanwhile, Garzon hit out at Australia, claiming Canberra had ignored requests by Assange for diplomatic assistance, including a letter sent as recently as 15 days ago.
He said the government’s response had been “entirely negative”.
“Not at any point in time have consular authorities visited Mr. Assange,” he said.
“And I understand that to be an obligation for all citizens of Australia.”
Australia insists it has offered Assange the same assistance it would give any other citizen in trouble overseas.
‘Manning a hero, US war on whistleblowers must end’ – Assange’s Full Speech
August 19, 2012
Julian Assange made his first public appearance in two months, ever since he took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Addressing the hundreds of people gathered outside the embassy, Assange thanked them for their support, claiming it was their resolve and presence that stopped British police storming the building.
“On Wednesday night, after a threat was sent to this embassy and police desceneded on this building, you came out in the middle of the night to watch over it, and you brought the worlds eyes with you. Inside this embassy after dark I could hear teams of police swarming up into the building through the internal fire escape,” Assange said.
“But I knew thered be witnesses. And that was because of you.”
The WikiLieaks founder thanked President Correa “for the courage he has shown” in granting him asylum, and to all the nations and individuals who have shown him support.
Assange also addressed the US government and President Obama, calling for the “witch hunt against WikiLeaks” to end.
“The United States must pledge before the world will not pursue journalists for shining light on the secret crimes of the powerful. The US administration’s war against whistleblowers must end.”
He also spoke of Bradley Manning, the Army Private who has been charged with 22 criminal counts over his alleged role in providing Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks site with sensitive documents that were then distributed. Manning has been imprisoned for more than 800 days and has yet to stand trial before a military tribunal.
“On Wednesday Bradley spent his 815th day of detention w/o trial. The legal maximum is 120 days,” Assange told the crowds gathered outside the embassy.
“If Bradley Manning did as he is accused, he is a hero and invaluable to all of us. Bradley Manning must be released”.
Assange went on to mention Nabeel Rajab, a Bahraini human rights activist, who was “sentenced to 3 years in jail for a tweet”.
Rajab tweeted critical comments about the Bahraini Prime Minister, calling for him to step down. Before his arrest, Rajab appeared as a guest on episode four of ‘The Assange Show’ on RT, hosted by the WikiLeaks founder. In the interview, he criticized the US-led invasion of Iraq, as well as US refusals to take action during the Bahraini protests and the wider Arab Spring.
Assange also spoke of Pussy Riot, a Russian female punk band, three members of which have just been sentenced to 2 years in prison for a “punk prayer” in Moscow’s main cathedral.
“There is unity in the oppression,” Assange said. “There must be absolute unity and determination in the response”
The WikiLeaks founder was granted political asylum on Thursday – a decision that ignited a wave of international responses, with the UK and Sweden opposing the verdict and Latin American countries strongly supporting Ecuador’s move.
This article first appeared on RT.com
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