Ecuador grants asylum to WikiLeaks' Assange - Toshiba
LONDON (AP) — He's won asylum in Ecuador, but Julian Assange is no closer to getting there.
The decision by the South American nation to identify the WikiLeaks founder as a refugee is a symbolic boost for the embattled ex-hacker. But legal experts say that does little to help him avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault allegations.
Instead, with British officials asserting they won't grant Assange safe passage out of the country, the case has done much to drag the two nations into an international faceoff.
"We're at something of an impasse," lawyer Rebecca Niblock said. "It's not a question of law anymore. It's a question of politics and diplomacy."
The silver-haired Australian shot to international prominence in 2010 after he began publishing a huge trove of American diplomatic and military secrets — including a quarter million U.S. Embassy cables that shed a harsh light on the backroom dealings of U.S. diplomats. Amid the ferment, two Swedish women accused him of sexual assault; Assange has been fighting extradition to Sweden ever since.
Interpol, the Lyon, France-based international police agency, issued a statement late Thursday saying Assange remains on the equivalent of its most-wanted list, the Ecuadorian decision notwithstanding.
The convoluted saga took its latest twist on Thursday, when Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino announced that he had granted asylum to Assange, who has been holed up inside the small, coastal nation's embassy since June 19. He said Ecuador was taking action because Assange faces a serious threat of unjust prosecution at the hands of U.S. officials.
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