Ecuador set to grant Assange asylum

Julian Assange. Photo / AP
Julian Assange. Photo / AP

Ecuador President Rafael Correa was set to grant asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Britain's Guardian newspaper said on its website today, quoting an official in Quito.

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

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

"We see in his work a parallel with our struggle for national sovereignty and the democratisation of international relations."

Assange, 41, took refuge at the London embassy on June 19 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces police questioning over sexual assault allegations.

Correa said yesterday he expects to respond to Assange's application for political asylum later this week.

"We expect to have a meeting no later than Wednesday," Correa said, referring to his diplomats in London.

Even if his asylum request is granted, it is unclear whether Assange 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.

WikiLeaks struck a deal with the Guardian to publish a raft of leaked US diplomatic cables in 2010 but the two organisations later suffered an acrimonious falling out.

The former hacker fears that from Sweden, he could subsequently be re-extradited to the United States to stand trial for espionage over the leaked cables.

The mother of the WikiLeaks founder met with Correa last week to discuss the fate of her son.

- AFP

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