The President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, has spoken publicly for the first time since he granted Wikileaks founder Julian Assange political asylum on Thursday. His critics regard the move as hypocritical and damaging to the country's international standing.
President Rafael Correa justified his to grant asylum to the WikiLeaks founder to the Ecuadorian people.
Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador, said, "We've given diplomatic asylum to Julian Assange after exhausting all means. For what? To guarantee that he is not extradited to a third country, which could put his life in danger. The life of Mr. Assange is at risk. A life sentence, which is being dead while alive."
But not all Ecuadoreans think their country has taken the moral high ground.
Cesar Ricaurte, a campaigner for press freedom, says it’s hypocritical to defend freedom of speech abroad when journalists are persecuted at home. He also worries about the legitimacy of the asylum decision.
Cesar Ricaurte, director Fundamedios, said, “As an Ecuadorian I’m concerned that the basis for conceding asylum was not very solid, the Ecuadorian government’s arguments were based on hypotheses and possibilities, not a good basis for international policy.”
Meanwhile, some analysts think Ecuador is in no position to get involved in an international dispute which is none of its concern.
Ramiro Crespo, Director of Analytica think tank,said, "Ecuador is involved in a problem which involves Great Britain, Sweden, the United States and so on. It would have been better to have nothing to do with this."
On Sunday, foreign ministers from the 12-member Union of South American Nations will discuss what happens next.
Meeting in Ecuador's Guayaquil city, they are expected to formulate a response to what Quito sees as the British threat to its embassy.
The Assange affair has thrust Ecuador into the international spotlight. Now its leaders will be trying to drum up as much support as they can from the rest of Latin America. They may need it.
- Ecuador grants asylum to Julian Assange 2012-08-18
- Ecuador president: Assange asylum for his safety 2012-08-18
- Ecuador grants asylum for Assange 2012-08-18
- Britain denies Assange safe passage after Ecuador asylum 2012-08-17