Ecuador has said that Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, has sought out asylum at the South American country’s embassy in London, according to Reuters. A week ago, Assange lost a bid in Britain’s highest court to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where he is to be questioned on sex-crime allegations. Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Pinto told reporters that “Ecuador is studying and analyzing the request.” The controversial Assange has waged a legal war in Britain’s courts for about two years to be allowed to stay in the country, even as his website has continued to publish sensitive documents.
The situation threatens to inflame tensions between the government of Rafael Correa, Ecuador's leftist and ardently anti-Washington president, and U.S. authorities, who accuse Assange of damaging its foreign relations with his leaks.
It is also an embarrassment for Britain, where the Foreign Office whose foreign ministry on Tuesday confirmed Assange was beyond the reach of its police in the Ecuadorean embassy.
"While the department assesses Mr. Assange's application, Mr. Assange will remain at the embassy, under the protection of the Ecuadorean Government," the embassy said on its website.
If Ecuador denies Assange's petition for asylum, the only option that remains through the courts is an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.