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Ecuador denounces British threat to storm embassy over Assange asylum

08-16-2012 10:18 BJT

QUITO, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino Wednesday denounced Britain's threat to enter Ecuador's embassy in London to seize WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who seeks asylum there.

Patino told reporters that Ecuador's Ambassador to London, Ana Alban, was notified that British authorities "could assault" the embassy, if Assange "is not handed over."

The British government had said it is "determined" to extradite Assange to Sweden to face charges of sexual assault. "The UK has a legal obligation to extradite Mr. Assange to Sweden ... and we remain determined to fulfill this obligation," said a Foreign Office spokesman.

In Quito, Patino called Britain's threat a "hostile and unfriendly act" that violates "clear international norms." "We are not a British colony," he added.

Earlier in the day, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa received a legal brief on Assange's asylum request, as he prepared to deliver a decision on the closely-watched case.

Correa met with a team of legal experts who prepared the brief, accompanied by his Attorney General Diego Garcia, Presidential Office Spokesman Fernando Alvarado and Foreign Minister Patino.

After the meeting, Patino told reporters that he personally handed the brief to Correa, but declined to say whether the document recommended granting political asylum to the Australian-born journalist, who has been taking refuge at Quito's embassy in London since June 19.

"I can't give you any information," Patino said.

The Ecuadorean government has spent almost two months analyzing Assange's asylum request, which has complex implications for Ecuador's relationship with Australia, Britain, Sweden and the United States -- all of them with an involvement in the Assange-Wikileaks affair.

Last Monday, Correa said he would meet with his legal team Wednesday to study the brief before making "a responsible and sovereign decision" regarding the sensitive case.

On Tuesday, Correa denied a news report in the British daily The Guardian that claimed Ecuador had decided to grant asylum to Assange.

Ecuador's final decision on the asylum request is expected at any moment.

While Correa has consulted with top officials on the matter, several government officials have said the decision rested solely with the president.



Editor:Zhang Jingya |Source:

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