Ecuador grants Wikileaks’ Assange asylum, ignites diplomatic storm with England, Citizen Warrior by Tiffany Madison for Communities @WashingtonTimes.com
DALLAS, August 16, 2012 — Julian Assange, founder and guiding spirit of the whistle-blowing organization Wikileaks, has been granted asylum by Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, sparking a tense diplomatic stand-off between Ecuador and the West.
Ecuador’s foreign minister Ricardo Patiño explained the government’s decision to media. “The Ecuador government, loyal to its tradition to protect those who seek refuge with us at our diplomatic missions, has decided to grant diplomatic asylum to Mr. Assange,” he said.
In response to Correa’s decision, the U.K. expressed “disappointment” before privately threatening to forcibly arrest Assange if he attempted to depart for Ecuador. The foreign minister promptly denounced threats to assault the Ecuadorian embassy. “Today we received a threat from the United Kingdom; a clear and written threat that they could storm our embassy in London if Ecuador refuses to hand in Julian Assange. We want to make it clear we are not a British colony and that the times of the colonies are over,” said Patiño.
This move is bold, but unsurprising. In 2011, State Department cables showed American ambassador Heather Hodges instigating unfounded rumors of high-level Ecuadorian corruption, angering Correa’s progressive administration. According to Correa, Hodges was approached with requests to validate her claims but refused, replying with “arrogance, an imperialistic attitude and insolence.”
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