Venezuela, ALBA back Ecuador and Assange

Venezuela and the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA) have backed Ecuador against “threats” from Britain, after Ecuador granted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange diplomatic asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London on August 16.

ALBA is an anti-imperialist bloc of eight nations that includes Ecuador, Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia.

Swedish authorities want to extradite Assange from Britain to investigate allegations against him of sexual assault.

However, Ecuadorian foreign minister Ricardo Patino voiced fears that Assange, whose website WikiLeaks often publishes US government secret documents, could face “political persecution” if extradited to Sweden, including being handed over to US authorities.

British foreign minister William Hague described Ecuador’s move as a “matter of regret,” insisting that “We will not allow Mr Assange safe passage out of the United Kingdom, nor is there any legal basis for us to do so”.

Patino also heavily criticised what he termed an “open threat” by the British government to enter the Ecuadorian embassy by force to arrest Assange. On August 15, he cited a diplomatic letter delivered through the British embassy in Quito, which stated: “You need to be aware that there is a legal base in the UK, the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, that would allow us to take actions in order to arrest Mr Assange in the current premises of the Embassy”.

“We sincerely hope that we do not reach that point, but if you are not capable of resolving this matter of Mr Assange's presence in your premises, this is an open option for us," the letter continued.

Venezuela called for Ecuador’s decision to grant Assange asylum to be respected, and criticised the British government’s conduct over the issue.

“We hope that the British government respects not only international law but the right to political asylum that Assange has received,” said Venezuela’s foreign minister, Nicolas Maduro, on August 16.

Speaking during an official visit in the Dominican Republic, Maduro also expressed his rejection of “the arrogance and predominance that the British government has had in the region [Latin America], directly threatening a democratic and sovereign government and announcing the possible violation of international law”.

Meanwhile, ALBA also released a statement yesterday criticising the British government’s message to Ecuador.

The statement raised concerns that by Britain’s “threats” made “against the integrity” of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, the British government was in danger of violating the Vienna Convention on [Diplomatic] Privileges and Immunities.

Declaring the ALBA’s “unfailing solidarity” with Ecuador, the statement further warned the British government of “the serious consequences for the relations with our countries that will follow in the event these threats are carried out”.

Maduro said regional organisations the ALBA, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) are being “activated … to accompany the Ecuadorian government” over the issue.

UNASUR is set to hold an extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers in Quito, Ecuador, this Sunday. The Organisation of American States (OAS) also held an emergency meeting yesterday to discuss the state of Britain-Ecuador relations.

Comments

I keep hearing this that South America unites and backs Ecuador against Britain’s colonialist threats. This has nothing to do with colonialism; it's just a cheap fraise they all throw around to get support because its Argentina’s biased opinion on the Falkland’s. The guy has been accused of Rape by the Swedish government and should stand trial. It went through the British legal system and every appeal he had was declined, so he should be extradited to stand trial for his alleged crimes. You noticed when he did his little speech for the cameras it was all about the US and Wikileaks, nothing to do with the rape charges in Sweden.
All Ecuador is doing is getting involved in an international matter that has nothing to do with them; it went through the British legal system, in Britain where we agreed to release Assange to Sweden. Someone obviously had a word in the guy’s ear and told him to go running to the Ecuador embassy or why choose Ecuador! As for us lifting there diplomatic status and storming the embassy that was never going to happen, like any incident that happens the government runs through every viable option and that was one that was raised. The letter was more than likely aimed to apply a little pressure for them to do the correct thing, this stuff goes on all the time it’s just not normally made public. The point remains we have no need to raid the embassy all we have to do is wait until he tries to leave and then he will be on a plane to Sweden, until then his free lunches are on Ecuador.
I’m still waiting for a real justifiable reason from the Ecuadorian government as this free speech rubbish has nothing to do with the rape allegations and from what I understand not something the Ecuadorian chief exactly promotes in his own country!
For me this is all part of escalating tensions between South America and Britain/North America and they just keep needling and pushing with no regard for international law (just like the Falkland’s). I wonder if they would be so obliging if wikileaks had a section on Ecuador….. I really don’t think they give a sh#t about Assange it’s more about rubbing Britain and the US the wrong way……

Actually, the Ecuadorean government has said it has no problem with Assange being sent to Sweden to face *questioning* over allegations (NOT made by the Swedish government, which would be ridiculous). All Ecuador has insisted on is a guarantee he would not THEN be extradited to the United States. And neither Sweden nor the US has been willing or able to give such a guarantee.

This is *also* Julian Assange's stated position. Both Assange and Ecuador have also stated that Sweden authorities, which seek Assange for questioning, can question him in London.

You say "I wonder if they still so obliging in WikiLeaks had a section on Ecuador..." Well... how about that then, it *just so happens* WikiLeaks *does* have a section on Ecuador. And Ecuadorean government requested WikiLeaks publish cables relating to it.
(http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/51416)

You say you are "still waiting for a real justifiable reason" from Ecuador -- try reading what Ecuador has actually said on the matter then.

You can read the full statement by Ecuador here: http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/51907

But to save you time, here are the specifically listed reasons:

* * *

In order to assess his fear of possible political persecution, and that this persecution could end up becoming a situation which curtails and violates his rights, integrity, and could become a risk to his personal safety and freedom, the Government of Ecuador has considered the following:

* Julian Assange is an award-winning communications professional internationally known for his struggles for freedom of expression, press freedom and human rights in general;

* Mr. Assange shared privileged documents and information generated by various sources that affected employees, countries and organizations with a global audience;

* That there is strong evidence of retaliation by the country or countries that produced the information disclosed by Mr. Assange, retaliation that may endanger his safety, integrity, and even his life;

* That, despite Ecuador’s diplomatic efforts, countries which have been asked togive adequate safeguards for the protection and safety for the life of Mr. Assange have refused to facilitate them;

* That Ecuadorian authorities are certain of the possibility that Mr. Assange could be extradited to a third country outside the European Union without proper guarantees for their safety and personal integrity;

* That legal evidence clearly shows that, given an extradition to the United States of America, it would be unlikely for Mr. Assange to receive a fair trial, and likely that he would be judged by special or military courts, where there is a high probability of suffering cruel and degrading treatment, and be sentenced to life imprisonment or capital punishment, which would violate his human rights;

* That while Mr. Assange must answer for the investigation in Sweden, Ecuador is aware that the Swedish prosecutor has had a contradictory attitude that prevented Mr. Assange the full exercise of the legitimate right of defense;

* Ecuador is convinced that the procedural rights of Mr. Assange have been infringed upon during the investigation;

* Ecuador has observed that Mr. Assange lacks the protection and assistance that should be received from the State of which he is a citizen (Australia);

* That, following several public statements and diplomatic communications by officials from Britain, Sweden and the US, it is inferred that these governments would not respect international conventions and treaties, and would give priority to domestic law, in violation of explicit rules of universal application and;

* That, if Mr. Assange is remanded to custody in Sweden (as is customary in this country), a chain of events would begin that would prevent further protective measures from being taken to avoid possible extradition to a third country.

Thus, the Government of Ecuador believes that these arguments lend support to the fears of Julian Assange, and it believes that he may become a victim of political persecution, as a result of his dedicated defense of freedom of expression and freedom of press as well as his repudiation of the abuses of power in certain countries, and that these facts suggest that Mr. Assange could at any moment find himself in a situation likely to endanger life, safety or personal integrity.

* * *

Seeing as pretty much every single claim you made is demonstratably false, you should probably take the time to find out the facts rather than rely on government and corporate media spin.

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