Tag Archive: Rafael Correa

Rafael Correa not considering Snowden asylum: ‘we helped him by mistake’

Rafael Correa Ecuador president Edward Snowden

Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa said Snowden ‘must be on Ecuadorean territory’ to make an asylum request. Photograph: Martin Mejia/AP

Ecuador is not considering Edward Snowden’s asylum request and never intended to facilitate his flight from Hong Kong, president Rafael Correa said as the whistleblower made a personal plea to Quito for his case to be heard.

Snowden was Russia’s responsibility and would have to reach Ecuadorean territory before the country would consider any asylum request, the president said in an interview with the Guardian on Monday.

“Are we responsible for getting him to Ecuador? It’s not logical. The country that has to give him a safe conduct document is Russia.”

The president, speaking at the presidential palace in Quito, said his government did not intentionally help Snowden travel from Hong Kong to Moscow with a temporary travel pass. “It was a mistake on our part,” he added.

Asked if he thought the former NSA contractor would ever make it to Quito, he replied: “Mr Snowden’s situation is very complicated, but in this moment he is in Russian territory and these are decisions for the Russian authorities.”

On whether Correa would like to meet him, the president said: “Not particularly. He’s a very complicated person. Strictly speaking, Mr Snowden spied for some time.”

The comments contrasted with expressions of gratitude the 30-year-old fugitive issued hours later, before Correa’s views had been published.

“I must express my deep respect for your principles and sincere thanks for your government’s action in considering my request for political asylum,” Snowden said, according to a letter written in Spanish and obtained by the Press Association news agency, based in London.

“There are few world leaders who would risk standing for the human rights of an individual against the most powerful government on earth, and the bravery of Ecuador and its people is an example to the world.”

Snowden compared the silence of governments afraid of US retaliation with Ecuador’s help in his flight to Moscow on 22 June. A temporary Ecuadorean travel document substituted for his cancelled US passport.

“The decisive action of your consul in London, Fidel Narvaez, guaranteed my rights would be protected upon departing Hong Kong – I could never have risked travel without that. Now, as a result, and through the continued support of your government, I remain free and able to publish information that serves the public interest.”

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Sun Jun 30, 2013 6:24AM

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa says Russia will make the decision about the destination of American intelligence whistleblower who has holed up in an airport in Moscow.


“At this moment, the solution of Snowden’s destination is in the hands of Russian authorities,” Correa said in an interview with the private Oromar channel late Saturday.


Snowden arrived in Moscow’s international airport from Hong Kong last Sunday. The U.S. has revoked his passport to prevent him from travelling. However, he has applied for asylum in Ecuador.


According to the law in Ecuador, asylum requests can be processed only when the applicant is in Ecuadorian territories.


Snowden, a former analyst at the National Security Agency, has revealed top secret intelligence documents about the U.S. surveillance programs in the country and abroad. He faces charges of espionage and theft of government property.


Correa said Snowden has requested asylum in Ecuador on the advice of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who released hundreds of thousands of U.S. classified documents three years ago. Also wanted by the U.S., Assange has taken refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since last year.


Correa spoke with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden early Saturday. In his weekly address, the Ecuadorian leader said Biden had asked him to “please reject” Snowden’s asylum request. He said he would consult the U.S. on making any decision about the application but added Quito would have the final say regarding the issue.




Corporate Control and Double Standards

Rafael Correa, the Press, and Whistleblowers


Once again, we are witnessing a growing frustration with “tiny” Ecuador. The United States government is clearly not happy with what would be the latest diplomatic slap in the face coming from the South American country, i.e. the pending arrival of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in the coming days. Beyond the United States’ government though, the US press corps are also seemingly up in arms. Why are they so angry? Well, it appears that they are indignant over the perceived hypocrisy of President Rafael Correa.

Claims of Hypocrisy

According to an article from The Atlantic (and another similar one from NPR here), the Ecuadorian leader “has created a safe space for foreigners like Assange — and now possibly Snowden –[but] he doesn’t do the same for dissenters within his own country.” News agencies like NBC News and The Atlantic think this is “interesting” and want to know ‘Why Ecuador?’ Such inquiries naturally turn to the NGOs, who are also less than pleased with this unruly little country. Freedom House, the Committee to Protect Journalists and others are upset that this very week, the one-year anniversary of Assange being holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London (and the same week that the Snowden asylum request is being reviewed), the Ecuadorian National Assembly has passed a Communications Bill that detractors claim is a major blow to a free press.

For several of the opposition figures and US-based observers, Ecuador’s new media legislation has sealed the deal on the stasi-like state that they imply or openly charge Correa has been dreaming about for years. In other words, transparency advocates like Assange and Snowden are compromising their credibility by associating with the Correa government. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the right-wing terrorist supporter/US Congresswoman representing Miami, has been busy tweeting as much. The Ecuadorian government, however, asserts that the bill is meant to place more media power in the hands of public groups and move away from privately owned media monopolies.

Meanwhile, the Council of Hemispheric Relations, Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Heritage Foundation all say that Ecuador must be punished for this latest insult to the US government. James Roberts of Heritagelashed out at the South American leader on June 24, writing in the National Review Online:

“Rafael Correa has demonstrated a blatant disregard for international standards of justice. That kind of conduct may not be surprising from a man who seeks to don the mantle of Chávez, but it should not be rewarded with trade preferences.”

It doesn’t take much imagination to understand how a figure like Correa would have been dealt with a few decades back, but it appears that the more heavy-handed approach is not really possible at the moment, much to the dismay of the powerful and connected.

Returning to the issue of freedom, has the defiant president of Ecuador used the National Assembly to pass a law that NPR, The Atlantic and others tell us will be used to make the country less transparent and more hostile to journalists who only wish to be free to monitor the government and act as a check on state power? Well, let’s hold off on the most absurd elements of irony here for a moment and address the issue at hand.

About a Coup

It should certainly not be regarded as a good thing if the case was simply a cut-and-dry example of authoritarian overreach. Freedom of the press, as we are learning with the Snowden case, has seemingly never before been so important, or so contentious for that matter. However, the Ecuadorian issue is not so simple and it was certainly complicated after a day of crisis nearly three years earlier when factions of the National Police and armed forces attacked the president of Ecuador on September 30, 2010. The event was widely regarded as a coup attempt. What exactly went down is still somewhat unclear. There was a dramatic showdown between Correa himself and police officers that were angered by a supposed attempt to cut their pay. What is for certain, though, is that it was a countrywide, well-coordinated attempt to shut down the National Assembly, the two major airports in Guayaquil and Quito and eventually a hospital where the president was being treated for wounds. Furthermore, the plotters were also attacking journalists throughout the country, and most of these were pro-government reporters working for public media outlets.

The opposition press has taken an active role in attempts to discredit Correa since he first ran for president. He has elaborated on his views of the press and they are certainly not very congenial. In 2012, during a public TV interview in Spain, Correa said, “one of the main problems around the world is that there are private networks in the communication business, for-profit businesses providing public information, which is very important for society. It is a fundamental contradiction.”

One of the issues that NGOs and journalists have cited in their litany of complaints about Ecuador’s endangered freedom of the press actually stems from the 2010 police and military uprising. During the chaos that ensued during the alleged coup attempt, one reporter from the paper of record in Guayaquil took the opportunity to claim that Correa had ordered police to fire on a crowd of innocent onlookers caught up in the melee, presumably aiming to provoke anti-government sentiments. The claim turned out to be completely unsubstantiated. The government fined the journalist and his paper El Universo some $40 million for defamation but later withdrew the charges. Consider what might have happened in the US if the Los Angeles Times or Washington Post would have falsely claimed that Barack Obama had personally ordered military or police forces to fire on a crowd of protesters and innocent people were injured as a result somewhere in Washington, D.C It would be difficult to imagine a reporter and his editors ever committing such a stupid move, but if they had, there would have been some serious consequences. Alas, this is not really too shocking in the context of a sensationalist Latin American press.


Ecuador offers U.S. rights aid, waives trade benefits

Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino (center L) talks to reporters before a function at a hotel in Singapore June 27, 2013. REUTERS/Edgar Su

QUITO | Thu Jun 27, 2013 10:06am EDT

(Reuters) – Ecuador’s leftist government thumbed its nose at Washington on Thursday by renouncing U.S. trade benefits and offering to pay for human rights training in America in response to pressure over asylum for former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

The angry response threatens a showdown between the two nations over Snowden, and may burnish President Rafael Correa’s credentials to be the continent’s principal challenger of U.S. power after the death of Venezuelan socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

“Ecuador will not accept pressures or threats from anyone, and it does not traffic in its values or allow them to be subjugated to mercantile interests,” government spokesman Fernando Alvarado said at a news conference.

In a cheeky jab at the U.S. spying program that Snowden unveiled through leaks to the media, the South American nation offered $23 million per year to finance human rights training.

The funding would be destined to help “avoid violations of privacy, torture and other actions that are denigrating to humanity,” Alvarado said. He said the amount was the equivalent of what Ecuador gained each year from the trade benefits.

“Ecuador gives up, unilaterally and irrevocably, the said customs benefits,” he said.

An influential U.S. senator on Wednesday said he would seek to end those benefits if Ecuador gave Snowden asylum.

Snowden, 30, is believed to be at Moscow’s international airport and seeking safe passage to Ecuador.


Read More  Here



Ecuador tells U.S. to send its position on Snowden in writing

People spend time in a waiting room at the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport June 26, 2013. REUTERS-Sergei Karpukhin

WASHINGTON | Wed Jun 26, 2013 11:29am EDT

(Reuters) – Ecuador said on Wednesday the United States must “submit its position” regarding Edward Snowden to the Ecuadorean government in writing as it considers the former U.S. spy agency contractor’s request for asylum.

Ecuador, in a statement from its embassy in Washington, said it would review the request “responsibly.”

“The legal basis for each individual case must be rigorously established, in accordance with our national Constitution and the applicable national and international legal framework. This legal process takes human rights obligations into consideration as well,” the statement said.

“This current situation is not being provoked by Ecuador,” the embassy said.

Snowden, 30, a former employee of the U.S. contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, appears to be still in hiding at a Moscow airport awaiting a ruling on his asylum request from the tiny South American nation’s leftist government.


Read More Here


Putin rules out handing Snowden over to United States

Edward Snowden, a former contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), is seen during a news broadcast on television at a restaurant in Hong Kong June 26, 2013. REUTERS-Tyrone Siu

MOSCOW | Wed Jun 26, 2013 6:10am EDT

(Reuters) – A former U.S. spy agency contractor sought by Washington on espionage charges appeared on Wednesday to be still in hiding at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport and the national airline said he was not booked on any of its flights over the next three days.

Edward Snowden fled to Hong Kong after leaking details of secret U.S. government surveillance programs, then flew on to Moscow on Sunday, evading a U.S. extradition request. President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday he was in the transit area of the airport and he had no intention of handing him to Washington.

“They are not flying today and not over the next three days,” an Aeroflot representative at the transfer desk at Sheremetyevo said when asked whether Snowden and his legal adviser, Sarah Harrison, were due to fly out on Wednesday.


Read More  Here


Ecuador denounces US ‘double standards’

Sun Jun 30, 2013 2:1AM

Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa


Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa has denounced U.S. “double standards” over granting asylum to fugitives.


Correa said Saturday that U.S. Vice President Joe Biden had asked him in a telephone call not to grant asylum to Edward Snowden, the fugitive former CIA contractor wanted in the U.S.


In a weekly television address, Correa rebuked the Obama administration for hypocrisy, pointing to the case of brothers Roberto and William Isaias, both of them bankers, whom Ecuador is seeking to extradite from the U.S.


“Let’s be consistent,” Correa said. “Have rules for everyone, because that is a clear double-standard here.”


Earlier this month, Snowden revealed massive U.S. surveillance programs sparking a scandal in America. Washington is now seeking the extradition of the leaker, charged with espionage and theft of government property in his home country.


Snowden is currently in the transit zone of a Moscow airport. Reports say he could consider seeking asylum from Ecuador, where he was planning to travel to after leaving Russia.


“The moment that he arrives, if he arrives, the first thing is we’ll ask the opinion of the United States, as we did in the Assange case with England,” Correa said in his television address. “But the decision is ours to make.”


Julian Assange, founder of the whistleblower website WikiLeaks, has been given asylum in Ecuador’s embassy in London. Wikileaks revealed classified documents it received from former U.S. Army soldier Bradley Manning, who was arrested in May 2010 in Iraq.


Secret documents provided by Snowden show the United States has spied on various European Union institutions and offices as well.


German news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Saturday that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), bugged offices and spied on EU internal computer networks in Washington, New York and Brussels.






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 Mother  Earth supports  all life not  just human  beings.  We  are  all tied  to her.  Our  responsibility  is  to  keep  her  healthy and  her  creatures  safe.  Man  has trashed  her  in the  name  of money.  Will money  bring  back  the  animals  that  have  been  wiped  off the  face  of  Mother  Earth?  Will money reverse the  damage  done  by greedy  companies that  have cared  nothing  for the  animals  or  the  earth in their  avarice  for  riches?  Our  duty  is  to  protect  Mother  Earth and  her  creatures for  she is  unique and  cannot  be  replaced.  Those  who are  destroying her in the  name  of money must  understand that  we will have  no  where to  go  once  they   have  destroyed  her.  Their  money  will not  bring  her  back , nor her  precious  creatures.
It is  time   Governments  understood that  we  will not  allow  this  to  happen.  The  time  of the  greedy  corporations  trashing  our Mother  Earth is  coming  to  an  end.  It  must  stop  as we  will all perish  with her and  money  will not  bring  her  back.
Where  do they  think they  will go  when the  air is  no  longer  fit  to  breathe  and  the  water  no longer  fit  to  drink?  Money  cannot  replace t he  beauty  and  splendor  that  they are  destroying and it  MUST  STOP NOW!

~Desert Rose~


Ecuador’s Sani Isla Kichwa people have asked for our help to stop the government turning their forest home into an oil field. A massive scandal in the global media challenging President Correa to act on his environmental principles could persuade him to pull back and stop the Amazon oil rush. Sign the petition now:

The local indigenous people have been resisting, but they are afraid that oil companies will break up the community with bribes. When they heard that people across the world might stand with them and make a stink to save their land, they were thrilled. The president of Ecuador claims to stand for indigenous rights and the environment, but he has just come up with a new plan to bring oil speculators in to 4 million hectares of jungle. If we can say ‘wait a minute, you’re supposed to be the green president who says no one can buy Ecuador’, we could expose him for turning his back on his commitments just as he is fighting for re-election.

He doesn’t want a PR nightmare right now. If we get a million of us to help this one community defend their ancestral land and challenge the president openly to keep to his word, we could start a media storm that would make him reconsider the whole plan. Sign the petition now and tell everyone — let’s help save this beautiful forest:

After Texaco and other oil companies polluted Ecuadorian waters and irreversibly devastated precious ecosystems, Correa led his country to be the world’s first nation to recognize the rights of “Mother Earth” in its constitution. He announced Ecuador was not for sale, and in Yasuni National Park promoted an innovative initiative where other governments pay Ecuador to keep oil in the ground to protect the rainforest rather than destroy it. But now he’s on the verge of selling out.

Shockingly, the Sani Isla Kichwa land is partly in Yasuni National Park. But even more shocking is Correa’s bigger plan — in days government officials begin a world tour to offer foreign investors the right to drill across 4 million hectares of forest (an area larger than the Netherlands!) Ecuador, as any country, may argue it has the right to profit from its natural resources, but the constitution itself says it must respect indigenous rights and its amazing forests, which bring millions in tourist dollars every year.

Right now, Correa is in a tough fight to be re-elected as president. It’s the perfect time to make him honour his environmental promises and make this green constitution come to life. Sign now to stand with the Kichwa people and save their forest:

Our community has fought year after year to protect the Amazon in Brazil and Bolivia, and won many victories standing in solidarity with indigenous communities. Now it’s Ecuador’s turn — let’s respond to this urgent call for action and save their forest.

With hope and determination,

Alex, Pedro, Alice, Laura, Marie, Ricken, Taylor, Morgan and all the Avaaz team

More Information:

Ecuadorian tribe gets reprieve from oil intrusion (The Guardian)

How oil extraction impacts the rainforest (Amazon Watch)

Drilling for oil in Eden: initiative to save Amazon rainforest in Ecuador is uncertain (Scientific American)

Ecuador’s indigenous leaders oppose new oil exploration plans in Amazon region (Earth Island Journal)

Crossroads News : Changes In The World Around Us And Our Place In It

World News  :  Legislation  –  Security

Condom used as evidence in Assange sex case ‘does not contain his DNA’

  • But its thought another condom, submitted by the second alleged victim, does.
  • Swedish authorities requesting his extradition from Britain to stand trial
  • First alleged victim claims that Mr Assange deliberately ripped a condom

By Abul Taher



Forensic staff could not find any conclusive evidence of Mr Assange¿s DNA on a torn condomForensic staff could not find any conclusive evidence of Mr Assange¿s DNA on a torn condom given to Swedish police by one of the alleged victims

Lawyers for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have revealed that a key piece of evidence does not contain his DNA.

A torn condom given to Swedish police by one of the alleged  victims was examined by staff at two forensic laboratories but they could not find any conclusive evidence of Mr Assange’s DNA on it.

The same forensic teams found DNA thought to belong to the WikiLeaks boss on another condom, which was submitted by the second alleged victim.

The revelation is contained in a 100-page police report that was written after witnesses were  interviewed and forensic evidence had been examined.

The report, which has been seen by Mr Assange’s lawyers, has led to the Swedish authorities requesting his extradition from Britain to stand trial, though he is yet to be charged with any offence.

Mr Assange, who denies allegations of rape and sexual molestation, has been fighting extradition to Sweden for the past two years. He claims it is a ruse to send him to the United States where he could face trial for espionage.

The 41-year-old is currently holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London after being granted asylum by the country’s president, Rafael Correa.

In the report, the first alleged victim, now 33, claims she was sexually molested by Mr Assange at her flat in Stockholm on  several occasions.

She also claims that Mr Assange deliberately ripped a condom before wearing  it so that he could have unprotected sex with her against her will.

Julian Assange is currently holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London after being granted asylumJulian Assange is currently holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London after being granted asylum by the country’s president, Rafael Correa.

His lawyers have said that the fact no DNA could be found  conclusively on an apparently used condom suggests a fake one may have been submitted.

The report also appears to cast doubt on the claim made by the second alleged victim, who told police that she was ‘raped’ by  Mr Assange when she was asleep.


But during a police interview,  the woman, now 29, apparently suggests that she did not mind  him having unprotected sex  with her.

The Swedish prosecutor’s office refused to comment on the report but said the case was ongoing.

Crossroads News : Changes In The World Around Us And Our Place In It

Government Overreach : Whistle Blowers

Why the US is Out to Get Julian Assange

Seumas Milne
The Guardian
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© Oli Scarff/Getty

Considering he made his name with the biggest leak of secret government documents in history, you might imagine there would be at least some residual concern for Julian Assange among those trading in the freedom of information business. But the virulence of British media hostility towards the WikiLeaks founder is now unrelenting.

This is a man, after all, who has yet to be charged, let alone convicted, of anything. But as far as the bulk of the press is concerned, Assange is nothing but a “monstrous narcissist”, a bail-jumping “sex pest” and an exhibitionist maniac. After Ecuador granted him political asylum and Assange delivered a “tirade” from its London embassy’s balcony, fire was turned on the country’s progressive president, Rafael Correa, ludicrously branded a corrupt “dictator” with an “iron grip” on a benighted land.

The ostensible reason for this venom is of course Assange’s attempt to resist extradition to Sweden (and onward extradition to the US) over sexual assault allegations – including from newspapers whose record on covering rape and violence against women is shaky, to put it politely. But as the row over his embassy refuge has escalated into a major diplomatic stand-off, with the whole of South America piling in behind Ecuador, such posturing looks increasingly specious.

Can anyone seriously believe the dispute would have gone global, or that the British government would have made its asinine threat to suspend the Ecuadorean embassy’s diplomatic status and enter it by force, or that scores of police would have surrounded the building, swarming up and down the fire escape and guarding every window, if it was all about one man wanted for questioning over sex crime allegations in Stockholm?

To get a grip on what is actually going on, rewind to WikiLeaks’ explosive release of secret US military reports and hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables two years ago. They disgorged devastating evidence of US war crimes and collusion with death squads in Iraq on an industrial scale, the machinations and lies of America’s wars and allies, its illegal US spying on UN officials – as well as a compendium of official corruption and deceit across the world.

WikiLeaks provided fuel for the Arab uprisings. It didn’t just deliver information for citizens to hold governments everywhere to account, but crucially opened up the exercise of US global power to democratic scrutiny. Not surprisingly, the US government made clear it regarded WikiLeaks as a serious threat to its interests from the start, denouncing the release of confidential US cables as a “criminal act”.

Vice-president Joe Biden has compared Assange to a “hi-tech terrorist”. Shock jocks and neocons have called for him to be hunted down and killed. Bradley Manning, the 24-year-old soldier accused of passing the largest trove of US documents to WikiLeaks, who has been held in conditions described as “cruel and inhuman” by the UN special rapporteur on torture, faces up to 52 years in prison.

The US administration yesterday claimed the WikiLeaks founder was trying to deflect attention from his Swedish case by making “wild allegations” about US intentions. But the idea that the threat of US extradition is some paranoid WikiLeaks fantasy is absurd.

A grand jury in Virginia has been preparing a case against Assange and WikiLeaks for espionage, a leak earlier this year suggested that the US government has already issued a secret sealed indictment against Assange, while Australian diplomats have reported that the WikiLeaks founder is the target of an investigation that is “unprecedented both in its scale and its nature”.

The US interest in deterring others from following the WikiLeaks path is obvious. And it would be bizarre to expect a state which over the past decade has kidnapped, tortured and illegally incarcerated its enemies, real or imagined, on a global scale – and continues to do so under President Barack Obama – to walk away from what Hillary Clinton described as an “attack on the international community”. In the meantime, the US authorities are presumably banking on seeing Assange further discredited in Sweden.

None of that should detract from the seriousness of the rape allegations made against Assange, for which he should clearly answer and, if charges are brought, stand trial. The question is how to achieve justice for the women involved while protecting Assange (and other whistleblowers) from punitive extradition to a legal system that could potentially land him in a US prison cell for decades.

The politicisation of the Swedish case was clear from the initial leak of the allegations to the prosecutor’s decision to seek Assange’s extradition for questioning – described by a former Stockholm prosecutor as “unreasonable, unfair and disproportionate” – when the authorities have been happy to interview suspects abroad in more serious cases.

And given the context, it’s also hardly surprising that sceptics have raised the links with US-funded anti-Cuban opposition groups of one of those making the accusations – or that campaigners such as the London-based Women Against Rape have expressed scepticism at the “unusual zeal” with which rape allegations were pursued against Assange in a country where rape convictions have fallen. The danger, of course, is that the murk around this case plays into a misogynist culture in which rape victims aren’t believed.

But why, Assange’s critics charge, would he be more likely to be extradited to the US from Sweden than from Britain, Washington’s patsy, notorious for its one-sided extradition arrangements. There are specific risks in Sweden – for example, its fast-track “temporary surrender” extradition agreement it has with the US. But the real point is that Assange is in danger of extradition in both countries – which is why Ecuador was right to offer him protection.

The solution is obvious. It’s the one that Ecuador is proposing – and that London and Stockholm are resisting. If the Swedish government pledged to block the extradition of Assange to the US for any WikiLeaks-related offence (which it has the power to do) – and Britain agreed not to sanction extradition to a third country once Swedish proceedings are over – then justice could be served. But with loyalty to the US on the line, Assange shouldn’t expect to leave the embassy any time soon.

Politics, Legislation and Economy News




Whistle Blowers




Ecuador urges Britain to retract Assange arrest threat

Agence France Presse


Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa speaks during a press conference at the Carondelet Palace in Quito on August 22, 2012. (AFP PHOTO/RODRIGO BUENDIA)



Sympathizers of Wikileaks founder Australian Julian Assange take part in a demonstration in support of his asylum request, at the Independence square in Quito on August 20, 2012. (AFP PHOTO / RODRIGO BUENDIA)


QUITO/SYDNEY: Ecuador Tuesday called on Britain to retract a threat to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at its embassy in London, adding that the South American country remains open to dialogue.

Quito set off a diplomatic firestorm last week by granting asylum to the 41-year-old Australian, who is wanted in Sweden for questioning over allegations of rape and molestation.

Britain has refused to grant him safe passage out of the country.

Assange claims Sweden plans to hand him over to the United States, where he fears prosecution over WikiLeaks’s release of a vast cache of confidential U.S. government files

Speaking to reporters, President Rafael Correa said Britain must “withdraw the grave error it committed by threatening Ecuador to possibly raid its diplomatic mission to arrest Mr. Julian Assange.”

However, “despite this impertinence, this rude and unacceptable threat, we remain open to dialogue,” he added.

Britain has angered Ecuador by suggesting it could invoke the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act of 1987, which it says allows it to revoke the diplomatic immunity of an embassy on British soil and go in to arrest Assange.

The WikiLeaks founder took refuge in the embassy on June 19 to evade extradition to Sweden.

Washington, meanwhile, has said it has had nothing to do with efforts by Britain to extradite Assange to Sweden, and denied Tuesday Assange’s “wild assertions” it had launched a witch-hunt for him.

Australia’s foreign minister said Wednesday that Assange was unlikely to be extradited from Sweden to the United States if there was a risk of the death penalty or a military court.

Bob Carr said Australia could not get involved in cases outside its jurisdiction but that Stockholm had indicated the former hacker was unlikely to be sent to the United States.

“It’s not a subject for Australian diplomacy, it’s a subject for consular support,” he told the Australian Financial Review.

“We have sought assurances from Sweden [that] due processes will be accorded … And the Swedes have said they don’t extradite anyone if there’s a capital offence or it’s a matter to do with military or intelligence.”

WikiLeaks has urged Sweden to guarantee it will not extradite Assange to the U.S., where he fears being pursued over the release of thousands of sensitive files, including those relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Stockholm has received no extradition request from Washington and Swedish law and the European human rights convention ratified by Sweden ban the extradition of a person to a country where they could face the death penalty.

In June, Carr said he had raised the issue of Assange’s possible extradition to the United States with American officials on two occasions and there was “no hint” of any such plan.

Carr has said if America had wanted to extradite the Australian they could have done it during his time in Britain, a country with which Washington has a robust extradition arrangement.

President ousted, Paraguay in turmoil

Police try to disperse supporters of Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo protesting against the Senate

Police try to disperse supporters of Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo protesting against the Senate’s decision to remove Lugo from office in Asuncion on June 22, 2012.
Sat Jun 23, 2012 1:20AM GMT
Paraguayans have clashed with police outside the Congress building in Asuncion, shortly after it was announced that the Senate had voted to remove President Fernando Lugo from office.

The lower house of the Paraguayan Congress impeached Lugo on Thursday, and the Senate opened his trial on Friday and quickly reached a guilty verdict, ousting Lugo.

Lugo was immediately replaced by Vice President Federico Franco, a ferocious opponent of the leftist leader. Franco was sworn in as the new president of Paraguay on Friday evening.

“Although the law’s been twisted like a fragile branch in the wind, I accept Congress’ decision,” Lugo said in a speech on national television after lawmakers found him guilty of performing his duties badly during a land dispute that left 17 people dead.

He added that “the history of Paraguay and its democracy have been deeply wounded.”

“Today I retire as president, but not as a Paraguayan citizen,” he said. “May the blood of the just not be spilled.”

After a five-hour trial, 39 senators voted to oust Lugo, while four senators voted against the motion, and two were absent. He was accused of mishandling an armed clash over a land dispute in which seven police officers and ten landless farmers were killed on June 15.

Earlier, Lugo had said the entire impeachment process was equivalent to a coup.

“It is more than a coup d’etat, it’s a parliamentary coup dressed up as a legal procedure,” an angry Lugo said on Paraguayan radio.

After the Senate announced the decision, several thousand Lugo supporters took to the streets to condemn the move and express support for the man they still view as the president of the country. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets and used water cannon to disperse the protesters.

The breakneck speed of the impeachment process raised concerns in other South American capitals, and a few dispatched their foreign ministers to Asuncion. Some countries even warned of the possibility of imposing sanctions on Paraguay.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa announced that his government would not recognize Franco as president.

“The government of Ecuador will not recognize any president of Paraguay other than Fernando Lugo,” said Correa, adding “true democracy is based on legality and legitimacy.”


Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

In an exclusive interview with RT Paraguayan ex-President Fernando Lugo says he was forced not to resist his impeachment by a threat of massive violence which may otherwise have been rocked the country. Lugo was ousted from power in what neighbors called an institutionalized coup.