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Ecuadorans Rally Behind Assange, Correa over Asylum

President Correa says it would be act of political suicide for Britain to raid Ecuador embassy for WikiLeaks founder

Common Dreams staff

Hundreds of Ecuadorans took to the streets Wednesday in support of President Rafael Correa's decision to grant WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange political asylum in the country.

Social activists and other supporters from around Ecuador gathered in the city of Quito, rallying in the capital’s Plaza Grande and around the city holding placards that read “Without true freedom of expression there is no sovereignty,” and “Viva freedom of expression. Support Julian Assange.”

"We're here to support the timely and correct decision to grant asylum to Julian Assange and also to reject the hostile reaction of Great Britain in cahoots with United States," said Betty Wanda, a 28-year-old lawyer.

“I think this government has stressed with its courageous decision to give diplomatic asylum to Julian Assange that for us it is a symbol of the freedom of expression on the international level, which has broken the cliché that one cannot touch the powerful. In this sense I believe that there is a need to show support and condemn the threats by the United Kingdom to try to raid our diplomatic mission there, in London,” said lawmaker Pedro de La Cruz, according to El Telegrafo daily.

Leaders from several South American countries have also rallied in support of Ecuador's decision. On Sunday at a meeting of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the countries adopted a seven-point resolution supporting Ecuador’s right to grant Assange asylum and condemned recent threats by UK authorities to raid the country's embassy in London.

The Ecuadoran government granted Assange political asylum last week. Assange had fled to the country's London embassy two months ago and has stayed within its walls ever since, hoping to navigate a safe passage out of the UK.

Assange faces extradition to Sweden from the UK for questioning over allegations of sexual assault; however, Correa has expressed that he, along with Assange, believes the extradition is part of a plan to eventually send Assange to the US for punishment over Assange's work with WikiLeaks. Assange now faces the diplomatic conundrum of making his way to Ecuador from the embassy in London, while facing imminent arrest by UK police -- who have now threatened to raid Ecuador's embassy in London to arrest Assange.

Correa added this week that such a threat is intolerable and would be an act of political suicide for the UK, having dramatic effects on diplomacy around the world.

"I think it would be suicidal for the United Kingdom," Correa said on state television. "After that, the diplomatic premises of [the UK] in other territories could be violated all over the world." Doing so would be "disastrous" for all countries, especially for Britain, Correa added.

Ecuador has stated that they could take the case to the International Court of Justice, but will first try to persuade London to allow Assange safe passage to Ecuador.

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