Ecuador has granted political asylum to the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, who is fighting extradition from Britain to Sweden.
He sought sanctuary at Ecuador’s embassy in London two months ago when his court challenge failed.
Assange argued that because his website published thousands of western government communications, he feared eventually ending up in the United States, where he could be tried for his life.
The foreign minister in Quito, Ricardo Patino, told a news conference: “The government of Ecuador considers that these arguments heighten Julian Assange’s fear of being the victim of political persecution, aspects that make Mr Assange believe that at any moment a situation could arise that might put his life, security and personal integrity in danger.”
The foreign office in London has said it is possible Ecuador’s embassy might lose its diplomatic status, at which point it could be raided by police.
A spokesman expressed disappointment at Ecuador’s decision adding that Britain will carry out its binding obligation to extradite Assange to Sweden where he is accused of rape and sexual assault, something he denies.