Ecuador granted asylum to WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange (pictured) on Thursday, in defiance of the British government’s threat to occupy the country’s embassy. Prior to the Thursday’s announcement London's finest surrounded the Ecuadorian embassy throughout the day. Hundreds of metropolitan police waited on orders to seize control of the embassy as the announcement of Ecuador's decision on Julian Assange's asylum petition approached.
Earlier the British government threatened to enter the embassy and apprehend Assange should Ecuador approve his request for political asylum. Twenty-plus pro-Assange protesters gathered at the corner outside of the embassy, holding homemade signs and shouting support of the founder and editor of WikiLeaks.
Ecuador's foreign minister Ricardo Patino denounced the threatened revocation of diplomatic status, reminding the UK that Ecuador was no longer a British colony. "We want to be very clear, we're not a British colony. The colonial times are over," Patino said after a meeting with Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa. For its part, the British government dismissed Ecuador’s act to protect Assange, insisting that he remains a fugitive from justice.
"The United Kingdom does not recognize the principle of diplomatic asylum," said British foreign secretary William Hague. Hague cited the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, maintaining that Britain may legally revoke the Ecuador embassy's diplomatic status. Hague further declared that Britain will not grant Assange safe passage out of the embassy and that the siege could go on indefinitely.
Australian media reports that Assange will appeal to the International Court of Justice should the U.K. block his safe passage to Ecuador.
Click here to read the entire article.
Photo of Julian Assange: AP Images