People protesting Julian Assange's extradition in Melbourne, Australia

People protesting Julian Assange’s extradition in Melbourne, Australia. Photograph by Takver

After much anticipation, Ecuador announced it will grant political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño made the announcement at 7am local time in Ecuador, 1pm London time, on August 16, 2012. As Justice for Assange explains:

Assange is currently under the protection of the Ecuadorean embassy. He has requested asylum based on a well-founded fear of persecution, torture or death in the United States in connection with the publication of truthful information of matters of interest to the public through his work with WikiLeaks.

Citizen journalist James Albury (@alburyj) has been live-streaming from outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

The Twitter account for Justice for Assange (@swedenvsassange) wrote:

The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (@foreignoffice) reacted immediately to the announcement:

In response to these tweets, WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) wrote:

Netizens from Ecuador and all over the world have been discussing the matter since yesterday, August 15, when Ecuador received a letter from the UK. Patiño said on Wednesday, as reported by the BBC: “Today we received from the United Kingdom an express threat, in writing, that they might storm our embassy in London if we don’t hand over Julian Assange.” WikiLeaks released a statement on this threat, pointing out that:

Any transgression against the sanctity of the embassy is a unilateral and shameful act, and a violation of the Vienna Convention, which protects embassies worldwide.

After news broke of this letter, Jacob Appelbaum (@ioerror) urged people in London to support Assange:

Meanwhile, human rights and foreign policy writer and analyst Josh Shahryar (@JShahryar) tweeted:

After Ecuador announced it would grant asylum to Assange, user @robertito1991 [es]from Guayaquil, Ecuador, wrote:

@robertito1991 [es]: Ecuador is the most famous country in the world for giving the USA and the UK some of their own medicine #AsiloAssange @LegionJJ @anonopshispano

But not all Ecuadorians are happy with the news, and some recalled President Rafael Correa’stumultuous relationship with the media, like @GiannyMoc [es]and Fer Cascante (@FerCascante) [es]:

@FerCascante [es]: For God’s sake, in what country do we live in? They give #AsiloAssangeasylum to Assange and they don’t respect freedom of the press, what a contradiction!

Others, like Elías Suárez (@Slashzer) [es], are suspicious:

@Slashzer [es]: Correa wants something that Assange has, no doubt about that.

Yet others are celebrating and congratulating the Ecuadorian government, like David Jimenez Abad (@DavidJimenezA93) [es], from Cuenca, Ecuador:

@DavidJimenezA93 [es]: It is good that Ecuador is granting asylum to Assange #AsiloAssangeand not giving in to international pressure.

As security researcher Dillan Beresford (@d1n) points out, this case is not over:

The Guardian‘s live coverage recently reported that “Sweden has summoned Ecuador’s ambassador to Stockholm, calling the granting of asylum to Assange ‘unacceptable.’”


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