Press review: Ecuador on Assange
- 17 August 2012
- From the section Latin America & Caribbean
The press in Ecuador is divided in its reaction to the decision by the government to grant asylum to the founder of the Wikileaks website, Julian Assange, at the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
Some accuse President Rafael Correa of seeking to make domestic political capital out of the case while others commend the decision on humanitarian grounds.
Carlos Rojas in El Comercio
Within yesterday's long and detailed explanation by Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino of why Julian Assange had been given asylum, there is one sentence which jumps out: "Ecuador is a free and democratic state, not subject to foreign tutelage, independent of interests other than those of its people and sovereign in its decisions." What popular interest could be in question with the political protection which the government decided to give to Julian Assange?...
President Rafael Correa's priority is the local scene and getting good poll numbers, especially with a vote so close. Talking about national dignity and saying the motherland is no-one's colony may swell the breast of any citizen who still believes that Ecuador has gained a position of respect on the global stage by raising our voice and having the president on the front pages of the world's press.
But much is needed before this country could put itself in such an honoured position. First, the regime would have to show that all the criticisms made against it, in Ecuador and abroad, over the deterioration of human rights... have no basis.
Finally, it should be explained why Ecuador has been so wary of condemning the abuses committed by its allies in Libya, Iran, Syria or Belarus. More than the "interest of the people", what matters here is the interest of Correa in protecting Assange so as to say that he is protecting the rights of the persecuted.
Editorial in El Telegrafo
The arguments put forward by the Ecuadorean government are all clear and supported by a position of absolute respect towards Great Britain itself. Giving Julian Assange asylum is a clear humanitarian act in the face of the risk to his life proven by the declarations of President Barack Obama himself, as well as US legislators and high-level officials, designating the Australian journalist a US military target...
With yesterday's decision, Ecuador has marked a milestone in the fight for freedom of expression and free access to information. Now it falls to the English government to rise to the level of history and respond positively to Ecuador's sovereign approach, without blackmail, without threats and without considering itself a big power or any sort of empire.
Aurelio Maldonado in El Tiempo
The UK, availed of its legendary strength and backed by US pressure, hopes to fulfil, in an unfair and unacceptable manner, what it says is an "obligation" to extradite Julian Assange to Sweden by any means, including threatening our embassy with a military assault to achieve its aim.
If political asylum is one thing and sexual assault charges are based on the criminal legislation of each state, we must agree that it is possible to raise false and reckless charges, even using false victims, in order to corner an important figure and imprison them. Thus the real aim is achieved, namely the vengeance of the prevailing political system...
Colonialism is not practical now, although it appears veiled and hidden in some cases, including in Latin America. Ecuador is doing a good thing giving asylum to an important personality and supporting freedom of expression, even if it does not practice this in the domestic sphere, where the press is attacked and frequently called corrupt.
Editorial in Hoy
It is not right to invoke a domestic law, as Great Britain has done, to argue that it may have the right to enter the Ecuadorean embassy. The Vienna Convention makes it clear that local police and security forces may not enter a diplomatic mission without the permission of the leader of that mission...
The decision to give Assange asylum was predictable, as was the British refusal to allow him safe passage... It can be asked what it is that defines him as someone who is persecuted politically when the Swedish judicial system has asked for his extradition so that he can face allegations of sexual assault. But it is also to be pointed out that, in the concept of asylum, this definition is made by the state which grants it.
The refusal to grant safe passage on the part of Great Britain creates a crisis which will be difficult to get out of, and whose serious consequences for the country should have been considered responsibly by the Ecuadorean government.
It is to be hoped that the human rights and freedom of expression the government is invoking for asylum will be respected without restriction at home.
Editorial in La Hora
Never before has the country attracted such close attention, except perhaps during our border conflicts with Peru, our various coups d'etat or the 30 September affair. We are, unfortunately, very popular...
The "righteous" cause in favour of Assange, which many of our compatriots have not enjoyed, guarantees weeks of distraction...
Since Assange gave the government privileged information about North American diplomacy towards Ecuador and interviewed President Correa in a very flattering manner, there has been a tacit agreement with the famous computer expert... As the French philosopher Blaise Pascal said: "The heart has its reasons, that reason knows not."