Opinion Brief

Should Ecuador give Julian Assange political asylum?

The leftist South American government may grant asylum to the WikiLeaks founder — despite the fact that he's accused of sexual, not political, crimes

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London, seeking asylum in a last-ditch effort to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces charges of rape and sexual molestation. The world-famous secret-spiller is relatively chummy with Ecuador's leftist, anti-U.S. president Rafael Correa, and the South American government is reportedly considering Assange's request. (The Ecuadorian newspaper El Comercio reported Wednesday that Assange would be granted asylum within hours.) But Assange's future remains uncertain, as Britain plans to arrest him for violating his bail terms if he emerges from the embassy. Is it wise for Ecuador to open its doors to Assange?

No. Assange is not a political refugee: Anyone has the right to request political asylum, says Kim Zetter at Wired. But Assange isn't seeking political asylum. He's accused of rape. Ecuador has promised to respect "the rules and principles of international law," but under Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — which Ecuador voted for — you don't give asylum to people accused of non-political crimes. Ecuador should turn its back on Assange."WikiLeaks' Assange flees to Ecuadorian embassy"

But welcoming Assange helps Correa counter his critics: The Ecuadorean president is engaged in a battle with his country's media over his attempts to "gag broadcasters," says Harvey Morris at the International Herald Tribune. Rolling out the welcome mat for Assange — with whom he bonded during an interview on the WikiLeaks founder's Russia Today TV show — would let Correa counter his critics and present himself as a champion of open information and the truth. In that light, it's a smart move."Asylum for Assange: What's in it for Ecuador?"

And it helps Ecuador tweak the U.S.: Assange claims that the charges against him were trumped up, says Josh Gerstein at Politico, as part of a larger scheme to eventually extradite him to the U.S., which he fears might execute him for exposing secret U.S. documents. Correa, for his part, "is a left-wing leader who's been at odds with the U.S." And for better or worse, welcoming someone who accuses the U.S. government of trying to kill him for revealing its secrets is one way to thumb your nose at Washington."Julian Assange seeks asylum from Ecuador"

Recommended

Israeli parliament approves coalition, Netanyahu out
Naftali Bennett.
changing of the guard

Israeli parliament approves coalition, Netanyahu out

Biden, Putin express openness to cybercriminal exchange
Joe Biden.
depends on what you mean

Biden, Putin express openness to cybercriminal exchange

Netanyahu goes 'scorched earth'
Benjamin Netanyahu.
loose cannon

Netanyahu goes 'scorched earth'

Biden says he's 'satisfied' with G7's final stance on China
G7 summit.
that'll do for now

Biden says he's 'satisfied' with G7's final stance on China

Most Popular

7 toons about the Dems' Joe Manchin problem
Political Cartoon.
Feature

7 toons about the Dems' Joe Manchin problem

Bad for Democrats. Good for democracy?
A voter.
Picture of Joel MathisJoel Mathis

Bad for Democrats. Good for democracy?

Texas governor claims Texas will build its own border wall
Greg Abbott
Abbott's Wall

Texas governor claims Texas will build its own border wall