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Unasur backs Ecuador's asylum offer to Assange

08-20-2012 12:29 BJT

QUITO, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- South American Foreign Ministers Sunday voiced their support for Ecuador in granting asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, rebuking Britain for "threatening" to storm the country's embassy in London.

The ministers of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) expressed their solidarity with Ecuador in a joint declaration issued following an emergency meeting in the Ecuadorian city of Guayaquil.

The seven-point document conveys Unasur's support for the government of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, in view of Britain's threat to storm Ecuador's embassy in London to seize Assange.

Stressing the validity of mechanisms that offer asylum and refuge to protect human rights, the declaration reiterated the sovereign right of a country to grant asylum and "strongly condemns the threat of the use of force between countries."

The document stated that Britain's threat to force its way into the embassy goes against the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, agreements that continue to be in force today.

Unasur called on Ecuador and Britain to pursue dialog and negotiation within the framework of international laws in regard to Assange, who has been holed up at Ecuador's embassy in London since June 19, when he formally petitioned Ecuador for asylum.

Unasur became the second regional organization this week to throw its support behind Ecuador and condemn Britain.

Member nations of the regional Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas issued a joint statement expressing their "emphatic support" for Ecuador and censure for the "intimidating threats" from the British government.

Together, the two organizations represent such nations as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Guyana, Nicaragua, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay and Venezuela, and several Caribbean islands.

Ecuador said last Thursday that it was willing to offer Assange asylum, citing the probability he would face a military trial, imprisonment or even death for leaking tens of thousands of secret U.S. military documents through his whistleblower website in 2010.

Swedish authorities say they want to question Assange for alleged sexual misconduct and have asked Britain to hand him over. Neither government has ruled out his extradition to the United States.

Britain's Foreign Office said it would deny Assange safe passage out of London, despite his being given asylum.



Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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