Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, will get political asylum from Ecuador, the government of the South American country announced on Thursday. But the British government may yet enter the Ecuadorean embassy in London to take Assange back into custody.
The announcement comes a day after the UK reportedly sent the Ecuadorian government a letter warning it would enter the country’s London embassy to arrest the 41 year old Australian activist if authorities failed to turn him over.
“We are disappointed by the statement from Ecuador’s Foreign Minister,” the British Foreign Ministry said on its Twitter account. “Under our law, with Mr Assange having exhausted all options of appeal UK authorities are under binding obligation to extradite him to Sweden. We shall carry out that obligation. The Ecuadorian Government’s decision this afternoon does not change that.”
Assange sought asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in mid-June, after losing his final appeal challenging his extradition to Sweden on alleged rape accusations. He says Sweden might extradite him to the United States to face charges for the release of hundreds of thousands of American government documents.
In a statement late Wednesday, Wikileaks called the British Government’s threat an “unprecedented assault on the rights of asylum seekers worldwide” and said any action would be a violation of resolutions adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.
“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,” Wikileaks said in a statement
The whistleblower group says Ecuador has called for an emergency summit of the Organization of American States and the Union of South American Nations to address the situation.