The Ecuadorean government has been working to ensure WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is not extradited to the US and this week went so far as to call such a possibility 'evil'.
"In legal terms … the evil that Ecuador wishes to prevent is the extradition [of Assange] to the US. Now if there are ways and means of that being tied down, I think that would be a just solution," stated the senior legal adviser to the country's embassy in London, where Assange has been staying in a bid to gain political asylum in Ecuador.
Assange began his quest for asylum after Britain's Supreme Court ruled that Assange must be extradited to Sweden, where he faces accusations of sexual assault. Assange and his legal team fear that he would then be extradited to the US on what Assange maintains are politically motivated charges of espionage over his work with the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks.
Diplomats for Ecuador said they have taken part in numerous diplomatic talks with the Swedish and UK governments, seeking to guarantee that Assange will not be extradited to the US after the completion of legal proceedings in Sweden.
Officials have estimated there have been more than 20 meetings – including video conferences – with the UK Foreign Office – and around 10 meetings between Ecuadorean and Swedish diplomats.
Under extradition law, a rule called "specialty" ensures that an individual can only be extradited to one country within a certain amount of time; however, the rule can be waived by the country granting the initial extradition – in this case the UK. If this is done, Assange could more easily be extradited to the US after his hearing in Sweden.
Ecuador is working to make sure this won't happen.
Ecuadorean government officials have now invited Swedish authorities to the embassy in London to facilitate questioning between Assange and the Swedish prosecutor surrounding the allegations in Sweden.
Assange is yet to be formally charged with a crime.
Officials in Ecuador said Assange should not expect a decision on his actual asylum request until after the Olympics.
# # #