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By Esther Addley and Beatrice Wolf, guardian.co.uk, June 19, 2012
Julian Assange has dramatically sought political asylum at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, days after the supreme court rejected the last of his appeals against extradition to Sweden to face sex crime accusations and after what he called a "declaration of abandonment" by his own government in Australia.
In a move that appears to have surprised even some of his closest supporters, the Wikileaks founder walked into the country's embassy in Knightsbridge and asked for asylum, citing the UN declaration of human rights [.....]
Also see @ guardian.co.uk:
Ecuador's free speech record at odds with Julian Assange's bid for openness
By Brian Braiker, June 19, 2012
[.....] Ecuador's justice system and record on free speech have been called into question by Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Amnesty International.
"I think this is ironic that you have a journalist, or an activist, seeking political asylum from a government that has – after Cuba – the poorest record of free speech in the region, and the practice of persecuting local journalists when the government is upset by their opinions or their research," José Miguel Vivanco, director of Human Rights Watch's Americas division, told the Guardian.
Vivanco points out that in April of 2011, Ecuador expelled the US ambassador Heather Hodges over diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks alleging widespread corruption within the Ecuadorian police [.....]
Julian Assange's haven of choice
By Julian Borger, June 19, 2012
Britain's diplomatic relations with Ecuador have historically been low-key but cordial. However, the 2007 election of a socialist president Rafael Correa, led to a sharp change of direction in the Latin American state's foreign policy, away from the US and its regional allies and towards a radical bloc led by Venezuela.
In 2009, Correa closed a US military base, renounced Ecuador's national debt and joined the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (Alba) created by the Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez as a counterweight to western influence in Latin America, alongside Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia [.....]