Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa says his government is taking very seriously the asylum request of Wikileaks chief Julian Assange - but he's not indicating when a decision will be made.
The leftist president also said in an interview late yesterday with Venezuela's Telesur network in Brazil that he doesn't know Assange personally but felt empathy toward Assange when he interviewed him last month.
Assange took refuge on Tuesday in Ecuador's embassy in London as his legal options ran out for avoiding extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning for alleged sex crimes.
His backers say the Swedish charges are just a pretext to get the Australian activist to the United States to stand trial for publishing tens of thousands of secret U.S. documents.
Meanwhile Australia's Foreign Minister Bob Carr believes Julian Assange could be extradited to the US from the United Kingdom just as easily as he could from Sweden.
Ecuador's deputy foreign minister told ABC Radio today the country's president would make a decision within 24 hours.
The Australian-born 40-year-old fears removal to Sweden could pave the way for extradition to the US to face possible charges - and a possible death sentence - over WikiLeaks' release of thousands of diplomatic cables.
Senator Carr dismissed Mr Assange's concerns about extradition to the US.
"If the US were pursuing extradition of Julian Assange they could do it just as easily - according to some experts more easily - from the United Kingdom ... than from Sweden,'' he told ABC Radio.
The foreign minister says the Australian high commissioner in London had spoken to the Ecuadorian embassy where Mr Assange is staying.
"Throughout this we've given him the sort of consular support that flows to any Australian in trouble in a foreign jurisdiction.''
But the government could not "fight cases'' in foreign jurisdictions.
Senator Carr insisted Mr Assange's asylum application had nothing to with the Australian government.
- AP and AAP