Ecuador denies Assange asylum report

President Rafael Correa says no decision has been made to grant political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

    Ecuador denies Assange asylum report
    Rafael Correa says he fears WikiLeaks founder could face death penalty if tried in United States [AFP]

    Ecuador's President Rafael Correa has denied a British media report that his country had granted asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

    Correa said he would consult advisers on Wednesday before deciding.

    Assange, 41, took refuge at Ecuador's London embassy in June to avoid extradition to Sweden over rape and assault claims, which he denies.

    "The rumour of asylum for Assange is false. No decision has yet been taken. Awaiting report from the foreign ministry," Correa wrote on Twitter.

    Assange fears being extradited to the US to face charges over WikiLeaks' publishing of a trove of secret documents, including information relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and countless diplomatic cables.

    Correa's statement came after Britain's Guardian newspaper said on its website on Tuesday that Ecuador was set to grant Assange asylum, citing an unnamed official in Quito.

    "We see Assange's request as a humanitarian issue," the official told the Guardian.

    "It is clear that when Julian entered the embassy there was already some sort of deal," the official added.

    Assange faces re-arrest

    On Monday evening, Correa told public broadcaster ECTV it was necessary to examine a great deal of material about international law in order to make an informed decision.

    In June, Julian Assange broke his bail terms and requested political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London [Reuters]

    "Hopefully this week we will be able to make a statement on the matter," he said.

    Even if Assange's asylum request is granted, it is unclear whether he will be allowed to travel to Quito as British police are waiting outside the embassy ready to arrest him for breaching the terms of his bail granted in 2010.

    He has embarked on a marathon round of court battles, but finally exhausted all his options under British law in June when the Supreme Court overturned his appeal against extradition.

    In July it was revealed that Ecuador would allow the Swedish authorities to interview Assange at their London embassy.

    Christine Assange, the mother of the WikiLeaks founder met with Correa earlier this month to discuss the fate of her son.

    Correa has often been at odds with Washington and offered Assange asylum in 2010.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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