The standoff with Julian Assange given asylum by Ecuador in its London embassy looks likely to drag on. No one is backing down.
The free-speech advocate made a statement from the embassy’s balcony, so the British police could not arrest him. He fears extradition to Sweden and being handed over to the US.
He suggested the Americans this way want to destroy his online media outlet WikiLeaks:
“I ask President Obama to do the right thing. The United States must renounce its witchhunt against WikiLeaks. The United States must dissolve its FBI investigation.”
Assange did not mention rape allegations the Swedes say they want to question him about in Sweden.
Foreign ministers from the 12-member Union of South American Nations condemned any alleged British intention to storm the embassy.
Ali Rodriguez of Venezuela read a joint statement in Guayaquil, Ecuador, at the host nation’s request:
“We express our solidarity and support for the government of Ecuador in the face of the threats made by the UK against the building that shelters its diplomatic mission. We reiterate the right of any state to grant asylum.”
Ecuador said that if Britain, Sweden, or the United States offered a clear written statement guaranteeing Assange’s life and safety, it would be possible for him to go to Sweden to face trial. Meanwhile, it looks like a stalemate.
Assange supporter Amaru Cruz said: “As you can see, there are hundreds and hundreds of police, and as a Latino I feel like they are threatening our freedom and I feel threatened by the threats that the UK government has made to the Ecuadorean embassy.”
Britain last Thursday said a 1987 law would allow it to arrest the Australian ex-hacker in Ecuador’s embassy.
The British courts say Assange must go to Sweden, where he says the real aim is to deliver him up to Washington, vengeful over revelations made through Wikileaks.