El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana

El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana
The Conquistador who put the Amazaon baisn "on the map"....Francisco Orellana

Friday, October 5, 2012

Ecuador defends giving asylum to Julian Assange


Friday 5 October 2012

Last Update 5 October 2012 1:29 am

STOCKHOLM: Ecuador’s ambassador to Sweden yesterday defended his homeland against criticism over press freedom following its granting of asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is wanted by authorities in Stockholm.

In nearly a full-page article in the Swedish tabloid Expressen, Mario Guerrero Murgueytio also explained why some media in Ecuador have been banned.

The ambassador was reacting to the way Ecuador has been portrayed in the Swedish press since Aug. 16, when it granted asylum to Assange, who had sought refuge in its London embassy to avoid being extradited to Sweden for questioning on sexual assault allegations.

Over the past few months Expressen had “published articles concerning the Julian Assange affair but has also expressed certain points of view on freedom of the press in Ecuador,” he wrote.

Much of the Swedish press has called it paradoxical that Assange was given asylum, ostensibly in defence of press freedom, in a country that suppresses local media according to several human rights group.

The Ecuadoran ambassador in his article countered that between Oct. 2009 and Aug. 2012, 99 media outlets lost their licenses, most of them for failing to pay taxes. At the same time 240 media were given permission to publish.

Assange denies the sex crime allegations and fears Sweden would extradite him to the United States, where his supporters claim he could receive harsh treatment and possibly even the death penalty.

WikiLeaks embarrassed the US government in 2010 by publishing huge caches of confidential documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and more than 250,000 diplomatic cables from US embassies.

Britain, whose courts granted Sweden’s extradition request, has said Assange will be arrested if he leaves the embassy

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