Ecuador said on Thursday that it would make a decision about an asylum application by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange within the next few hours.
The Australian is currently at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden over rape allegations that he claims are politically motivated.
Assange has been locked in an 18-month legal fight which he says is linked to leaks of sensitive data by the WikiLeaks website.
In an interview, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa said: “If an asylum request affects our relationship with Britain, our relations with the US should also be affected because of all the corrupt Ecuadorians, the financiers who bankrupted our country, have asked for asylum there. Journalists who defame go to the US to request asylum.
“I think it’s established in international law and every country has a perfect right within its sovereignty to analyse the possibility of giving asylum to a world citizen who has asked for it.”
Assange is wanted for questioning about allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two women, former WikiLeaks volunteers. He denies any wrongdoing.
When he leaves the Embassy, Assange is likely to be arrested for breaching bail conditions imposed by a British court, which include a night-time curfew.
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