Julian Assange has dramatically sought political asylum at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, days after the supreme court rejected the last of his appeals against extradition to Sweden to face sex crime accusations and after what he called a “declaration of abandonment” by his own government in Australia.
In a move that appears to have surprised even some of his closest supporters, the WikiLeaks founder walked into the country’s embassy in Knightsbridge and asked for asylum, citing the UN declaration of human rights.
“I can confirm I arrived at the Ecuadorean embassy and sought diplomatic sanctuary and political asylum,” Assange said in a statement.
“This application has been passed to the ministry of foreign affairs in the capital Quito. I am grateful to the Ecuadorean ambassador and the government of Ecuador for considering my application.”
The audacious bid came less than a week after the supreme court finally rejected his appeal against extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning in connection with accusations of the rape of one woman and sexual assault on another in August 2010, which he denies.
Assange and his supporters have argued that his removal to Sweden could be followed by a possible onward extradition to the US on potential espionage charges, saying he is at risk of the death penalty.
If Assange is granted asylum (unlikely IMNSHO) he may end up regretting it. He’ll have to hide out in Ecuador instead of jet-setting around the world. How many of his groupies will be willing to visit him there? How will he make money to sustain his fancy lifestyle?
He won’t be a political prisoner, he’ll be a fugitive. He’s already having money problems and by fleeing he’ll give the authorities in England, Sweden and possibly the United States the excuse to cut off any financial assistance he is still getting.
Ecuador doesn’t really want him. Thumbing their nose at the US is one thing, making us angry is another. Assange isn’t worth a diplomatic incident.
Stay tuned for further developments.