LONDON, United Kingdom — (DMN/BBC) – Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has sought political asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. He walked into the embassy in London’s Knightsbridge district and asked for asylum under the United Nations Human Rights Declaration. A man speaking from the embassy said the whistleblower had arrived there today. Ecuador’s foreign minister Ricardo Patino also confirmed the Australian had taken refuge at its embassy and that the country’s government was weighing up the request.
A message was posted on the Wikileaks Twitter account, saying: “ALERT: Julian Assange has requested political asylum and is under the protection of the Ecuadorian embassy in London.” A second read: “We will have more details on the Ecuadorian situation soon.” The dramatic move by Mr Assange followed his long-running legal bid to halt his extradition to Sweden, where he faces sex crime allegations. The UK Supreme Court decided on May 30 that extradition was lawful and could go ahead, but Mr Assange was given time to consider the judgment.
The Swedish authorities want him to answer accusations of raping a woman and sexually molesting and coercing another in Stockholm in August 2010 while on a visit to give a lecture. Assange, whose WikiLeaks website has published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables that embarrassed several governments and international businesses, says the sex was consensual and the allegations against him are politically motivated. Last week the supreme court reaffirmed its rejection of the 40-year-old’s appeal against his extradition, turning down an 11th hour request to reopen the case.
In a brief statement, the court said the application was “without merit and it is dismissed.” The supreme court case revolved around the question of whether a prosecutor constituted a “judicial authority” as the European arrest warrant specifies. The supreme court found by a majority of five to two against Assange, saying that the warrant was valid. In its statement declining to reopen the case, the court said it had agreed unanimously that extradition proceedings should not begin for another two weeks.