Ecuador set the stage for a diplomatic standoff Thursday when it granted WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange political asylum over the protests of U.K. authorities.
Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London for more than six weeks as he fights extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted on allegations of sexual misconduct.
Announcing the decision early Thursday, Ecuador Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino echoed Assange's fears that Sweden may deport him to the United States where he said Assange was unlikely to get a fair trial.
The U.K. Foreign Office said it could not honor Ecuador's request.
"Under our law, with Mr. Assange having exhausted all options of appeal, the British authorities are under a binding obligation to extradite him to Sweden," the Foreign Office said in a statement. "We shall carry out that obligation. The Ecuadorian Government's decision [Thursday] does not change that."
Scotland Yard has said Assange will be detained once he's off embassy grounds, complicating his transit from the embassy to the airport.
WikiLeaks was launched in 2006 as a whistle-blowing website, where documents could be published anonymously. But the site caught global attention in 2010 when it began releasing confidential U.S. State Department cables. The Miami Herald's parent company, McClatchy, is one of WikiLeaks publishing partners.
Assange's supporters have said they fear he will be tried in the United States on espionage charges. However, no indictment or extradition request is known to exist.
Most Popular Stories
- European Car Sales up First Time in 20 Months
- Entrepreneurs Chase Social Media
- Schedule packed with talent at the Fox
- Manila's Hollywood Week
- I never set out to be a role model but it's great to be one ; IN THE HOTSEATBetter known by his stage name Wretch 32, Jermaine Sinclair is a 28-year-old rapper from London. In 2011 his debut album Black and White sold over a million copies and scored three top five singles. His latest single Blackout was released this week
- Austin musicians point to a variety of reasons to appreciate McCartney
- Financial Times Twitter, Email Hacked
- 'Star Trek Into Darkness': The Return of Khan?
- Apple's iPhones, iPads Approved for Military Use, Sir Yes Sir!
- SINCE YOU ASKED [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA)]