Title: Statement of the Government of the Republic of Ecuador on the asylum request of Julian Assange

Description: A statement in which the government of Ecuador explains why they granted Julian Assange asylum on August 16, 2012.

Text: On June 19, 2012, the Australian citizen Julian Assange, showed up on the
headquarters of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, with the purpose of
requesting diplomatic protection of the Ecuadorian State, invoking the norms
on political asylum in force. The requester has based his petition on the fear
of an eventual political persecution of which he may be a victim in a third
State, which can use his extradition to the Swedish Kingdom to obtain in turn
the ulterior extradition to such country.

The Government of Ecuador, faithful to the asylum procedure, and attributing
the greatest seriousness to this case, has examined and assessed all the
aspects implied, particularly the arguments presented by Mr. Assange backing
up the fear he feels before a situation that this person considers as a threat
to his life, personal safety and freedom.

It is important to point out that Mr. Assange has made the decision to request
asylum and protection from Ecuador because of the accusations that, according
to him, have been formulated for supposed “espionage and betrayal” with which
the citizen exposes the fear he feels about the possibility of being
surrendered to the United States authorities by the British, Swedish or
Australian authorities, thus it is a country, says Mr. Assange, that
persecutes him because of the disclosure of compromising information for the
United States Government. He equally manifests, being “victim of a persecution
in different countries, which derives not only from his ideas and actions, but
from his work by publishing information compromising the powerful ones, by
publishing the truth and, with that, unveiling the corruption and serious
human rights abuses of citizens around the world”.

Therefore, for the requester, the imputation of politic felonies is what backs
up his request for asylum, thus in his criteria, he faces a situation that
means to him an imminent danger which he cannot resist. With the purpose of
explaining the fear he has of a possible political persecution, and that this
possibility ends up turning into a situation of impairment and violation of
his rights, with risk for his integrity, personal security and freedom, the
Government of Ecuador considered the following:

That Julian Assange is a communication professional internationally awarded
for his struggle on freedom of expression, freedom of press and human rights
in general;
That Mr. Assange shared with the global population privileged documented
information that was generated by different sources, and that affected
officials, countries and organizations;
That there are serious indications of retaliation by the country or countries
that produced the information disclosed by Mr. Assange, retaliation that can
put at risk his safety, integrity and even his life;
That, despite the diplomatic efforts carried out by the Ecuadorian State, the
countries from which guarantees have been requested to protect the life and
safety of Mr. Assange, have denied to provide them;
That, there is a certainty of the Ecuadorian authorities that an extradition
to a third country outside the European Union is feasible without the proper
guarantees for his safety and personal integrity;
That the judicial evidence shows clearly that, given an extradition to the
United States, Mr. Assange would not have a fair trial, he could be judge by a
special or military court, and it is not unlikely that he would receive a
cruel and demeaning treatment and he would be condemned to a life sentence or
the death penalty, which would not respect his human rights;
That, even when indeed Mr. Assange has to respond to the investigation open
in Sweden, Ecuador is aware that the Swedish prosecutor’s office has had a
contradictory attitude that prevented Mr. Assange from the total exercise of
the legitimate right to defense;
That Ecuador is convinced that the procedural rights of Mr. Assange have been
infringed during that investigation:
That Ecuador has verify that Mr. Assange does not count with the adequate
protection and help that he should receive from the State of which he is a
citizen;
That, according to several public statements and diplomatic communications
made by officials from Great Britain, Sweden and the United States, it is
deduced that those governments would not respect the international
conventions and treaties and would give priority to internal laws of
secondary hierarchy, contravening explicit norms of universal application;
and,
That, if Mr. Assange is reduced to preventive prison in Sweden (as it is
usual in that country), it would initiate a chain of events that will prevent
the adoption of preventive measures to avoid his extradition to a third
country.
Accordingly, the Ecuadorian Government considers that these arguments back up
Julian Assange’s fears, thus he can be a victim of political persecution, as
a consequence of his determined defense to freedom of expression and freedom
of press, as well as his position of condemn to the abuses that the power
infers in different countries, aspects that make Mr. Assange think that, in
any given moment, a situation may come where his life, safety or personal
integrity will be in danger. This fear has leaded him to exercise his human
right of seeking and receiving asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador in the United
Kingdom.

Article 41 of the Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador defines clearly the
right to grant asylum. Regarding those dispositions, the rights to asylum and
shelter are fully recognized, according to the law and international human
rights instruments. According to such constitutional norm:
“People who are in a situation of asylum and shelter will enjoy special
protection that guarantees the full exercise of their rights. The State will
respect and guarantee the principle of no return, aside from the humanitarian
and judicial emergency assistance”.

Moreover, the right to asylum is recognized in the Article 4.7 of the Organic
Law of Foreign Service of 2006, which determines the faculty of the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Integration of Ecuador to know the cases of
diplomatic asylum, according to the laws, the treaties, the rights and the
international practice.

It is important to outline that our country has outstood over the last years
for welcoming a huge number of people who have requested territorial asylum or
refuge, respecting with no restriction the principle of no return and no
discrimination, while adopting measures towards granting the refugee status in
an efficient way, bearing in mind the circumstances of the requesters, most of
them Colombians escaping the armed conflict in their country. The High
Commissioner of the United Nations for Refugees has praised Ecuador’s refugee
policy, and has highlighted the meaningful fact that these people have not
been confined to refugee camps in this country, but they are integrated to
society, in full enjoyment of their human rights and guarantees.

Ecuador states the right to asylum in the universal brochure of human rights
and believes, therefore, that the effective application of this right requires
the international cooperation that our countries can provide, without which
its enouncement would be unfruitful, and the institution would be completely
ineffective. For these reasons, and bearing in mind the obligation that all
the States have assumed to collaborate in the protection and promotion of
Human Rights, as it is established in the United Nations Charter, invites the
British Government to provide its contingent to reach this purpose.

For those effects, Ecuador has been able to verify, in the course of analysis
of the judicial institutions regarding the asylum, that to the confirmation of
this right attend fundamental principles of general international law, which
because of their importance have universal value and scope, for they are
consistent with the general interest of the international community as a
whole, and count with the full recognition of all the States. Those
principles, which are contemplated in the different international instruments,
are the following:

The asylum in all its forms is a fundamental human right and creates
obligations erga omnes, meaning, “for all”, the States.
The diplomatic asylum, the refuge (territorial asylum), and the right to not
being extradited, expulsed, surrendered or transferred, are comparable human
rights, thus they are based on the same principles of human protection: no
return and no discrimination with no distinction of unfavorable character for
reasons of race, color, sex, language, religion or belief, political or other
type of opinions, national or social origin, birth or other condition or
similar criteria.
All these forms of protection are ruled by the pro homine principles (meaning,
most favorable to the human being), equality, universality, indivisibility,
complementarity, and inter dependency.
The protection is produced when the State which grants the asylum, refuge or
requested, or the protective potency, considers that there is a risk or fear
that the protected person may be a victim of political persecution, or are
charged with political felonies.
It corresponds to the State which grants the asylum to qualify the causes of
asylum and, in the case of extradition, to value the evidences.
Regardless of the modality or form in which it is presented, the asylum has
always the same cause and the same legal object, meaning, political
persecution, which is a legal cause; and to safe guard the life, personal
safety and freedom of the protected person which is a legal object.
The right to asylum is a fundamental human right; therefore, it belongs to
the ius cogens, meaning, the system of imperative norms of right recognized
by the international community as a whole, which does not admit a contrary
agreement, annulling the treaties and dispositions of international law
against it.
In the unforeseen cases on the law in force, the human being is under the
safe guard of the humanity principles and the demands of the public
conscience or under the protection and empire of the principles of the law
of people derived from the established uses, of the humanity principles and
the dictates of the public conscience.
The lack of international convention or internal legislation of the States
cannot be legitimately claimed to limit, impinge or deny the right to
asylum.
The norms and principles that rule the rights to asylum, refuge, no
extradition, no surrender, no expulsion and no transference are convergent,
to the necessary extent to perfect the protection and providing it with the
most efficiency. In this sense, the international bill of human rights, the
right to asylum and refuge and the humanitarian law are complementary.
The rights of protection to the human being are based on ethical principles
and values universally admitted and, therefore, they have a humanitarian,
social, solidarity, assistant and pacific character.
All the States have the duty to promote the progressive development of the
international bill of human rights through effective national and
international laws.
Ecuador considers that the right applicable to Mr. Julian Assange’s case is
integrated by the whole principles, norms, mechanisms and procedures
foreseen on the international instruments of human rights (regional or
universal), which contemplate among their dispositions the right to seek,
receive and enjoy asylum for political reasons; the Conventions that
regulate the right to asylum and the right of refugees, and that recognize
the right to not be surrendered, returned or expulsed when there are founded
fears of political persecution; the Conventions that regulate extradition
and that recognize the right to not be extradited when this measure can mask
political persecution; and the Conventions that regulate the humanitarian
right, and that recognize the right not to be transferred when there is a
risk of political persecution. All these modalities of asylum and
international protection are justified by the need to protect this person of
an eventual political persecution, or a possible imputation of political
felonies and/ or felonies connected to these last ones, which, to Ecuador’s
judgment, not only would put at risk the life of Mr. Assange, but would also
represent a serious injustice committed against him.

It is undeniable that the States, having contracted with so numerous and
substantive international instruments- many of them judicially binding- the
obligation to provide protection or asylum to people persecuted for political
reasons, have expressed their will to establish a judicial institution of
protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, founded as a right in a
generally accepted practice, which gives those obligations an imperative
character, erga omnes that, being bonded to respect, protection and
progressive development of human rights and fundamental freedoms, are a part
of the ius cogens. Some of those instruments are mentioned bellow:

United Nations Charter of 1945, Purposes and Principles of the United Nations:
obligation of all the members to cooperate in the promotion and protection of
human rights;
Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948: the right to seek and enjoy
asylum in any country, for political reasons (Article 14);
American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man of 1948: the right to
seek and enjoy asylum in any country, for political reasons (Article 27);
Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949, regarding the Due Protection of
Civilians in War Times: in no case it is due to transfer the protected person
to a country where they can fear persecutions because of their political
opinions (Article 45);
Convention on the Refugees Statute of 1951, and its New York Protocol of 1967:
forbids to return or expulse refugees to countries where their life and
freedom may be in danger ( Article 33.1);
Convention on Diplomatic Asylum of 1954: the State has the right to grant
asylum and to qualify the nature of the felony or reasons of persecution
(Article 4);
Convention on Territorial Asylum of 1954: the State has the right to admit in
its territory people it judges convenient (Article 1), when they are
persecuted for their beliefs, opinions or political filiations, or by actions
that may be considered political felonies (Article 2), not being able the
asylum granting State, to return or expulsed the asylum seeker that is
persecuted for political reasons or felonies (Article 3); in the same way, the
extradition does not proceed when it is about people who, according to the
required State, are persecuted for political felonies, or for common felonies
that are committed with political purposes, nor when the extradition is
requested obeying political motives (Article 4);
European Extradition Treaty of 1957: forbids the extradition if the requested
Part considers that the felony imputed has a political character (Article
3.1);
2312 Declaration on Territorial Asylum of 1967: establishes the granting of
asylum to the people that have such right according to Article 14 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including people who fight against
colonialism (Article 1.1). The denial of admission, expulsion or return to any
State where they can be object of persecution is forbidden (Article 3.1);
Vienna Convention on the Law of the Treaties of 1969: establishes that the
norms and imperative principles of general international right do not admit a
contrary agreement, being null the treaty that at the moment of its conclusion
enters in conflict with one of these norms (Article 53), if a peremptory norm
of the same character arises, every existent treaty that enters in conflict
with that norm is null and ended (Article 64). As far as the application of
these articles, the Convention authorizes the States to demand their
accomplishment before the International Court of Justice, with no requisition
of conformity by the demanded State, accepting the tribunal’s jurisdiction
(Article 66 b). The human rights are norms of the ius cogens.
American Convention on Human Rights of 1969: the right to seek and receive
asylum for political reasons (Article 22. 7);
European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism of 1977: the required
State has the faculty to deny extradition when there is danger of persecution
or punishment of the person for their political opinions (Article 5);
Inter American Convention for Extradition of 1981: the extradition does not
proceed when the requested has been judge or condemned, or is going to be
judge before an exception tribunal or ad hoc in the required State (Article
4.3); when, with arrangement to the qualification of the required State, it
deals with political felonies, or connected felonies or common felonies
persecuted with political purposes; when from the case’s circumstances, can be
inferred that the persecuted purposes is mediated for considerations of race,
religion or nationality, or that the situation of the person is at risk of
being aggravated for one of those reasons (Article 4.5). The Article 6
disposes, regarding the Right to Asylum, that “none of the exposed in the
present Convention may be interpreted as a limitation to the right to asylum,
when this proceeds”.
African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1981: the right of the
persecuted individual to seek and obtain asylum in other countries (Article
12.3);
Cartagena Declaration of 1984: recognizes the right to refuge, to not being
rejected in the borders and to not being returned;
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union of 2000: establishes the
right to diplomatic and consular protection. Every citizen of the Union may
seek refuge, in the territory of a third country, in which the Member State of
nationality is not represented, to the protection of diplomatic and consular
authorities of any member State, in the same conditions of the nationals of
that State (Article 46).
The Government of Ecuador considers important to outline that the norms and
principles recognized in the international instruments mentioned, and in other
multi lateral treaties, have preeminence over the internal laws of the States,
thus such treaties are based in a universally oriented normative by intangible
principles, from which a greater respect is derived, guarantee and protection
of human rights against unilateral attitudes of the same States. This would
subtract efficiency to the international law, which otherwise has to be
strengthen, so the respect of fundamental rights is consolidated in function
of integration and ecumenical character.

On the other hand, since Julian Assange requested political asylum to Ecuador,
dialogues of high diplomatic level have been held, with the United Kingdom,
Sweden and the United States.

In the course of these conversations, our country has appealed to obtain from
the United Kingdom the strictest guarantees so Julian Assange faces, with no
obstacles, the judicial process open in Sweden. Such guarantees include that,
once treated his legal responsibilities in Sweden, he would not be extradited
to a third country; this is, the guarantee that the specialty figure will not
be applied. Unfortunately, and despite the repeated exchanges of texts, the
United Kingdom never gave proof of wanting to achieve political compromises,
limiting to repeat the content of the legal texts.

Julian Assange’s lawyers requested the Swedish justice to take statements of
Julian Assange in the premises of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Ecuador
translated officially to the Swedish authorities its will to facilitate this
interview with the purpose of not intervening or obstacle the judicial process
that is carried out in Sweden. This is a perfectly legal and possible
measure. Sweden did not accept it.

On the other hand, Ecuador searched the possibility that the Swedish
Government would establish guarantees to avoid the onward extradition of
Assange to the United States. Again, the Swedish Government rejected any
commitment on that sense.

Finally, Ecuador directed a communication to the Government of the United
States to know officially its position on the Assange’s case. The consults
referred to the following:

If there is a legal process in course or the intention to carry out such
process against Julian Assange and/ or the founders of the Wikileaks
organization;
In the case of the above being truth, what kind of legislation, in which
conditions and under which maximum penalties would those people be subjected;
If there is the intention of requesting the extradition of Julian Assange to
the United States.
The answer of the United States has been that they cannot offer information on
the Assange’s case, with the allegation that it is a bilateral matter between
Ecuador and the United Kingdom.

With these antecedents, the Government of Ecuador, faithful to its tradition
to protect those who seek shelter in its territory or in the premises of its
diplomatic missions, has decided to grant diplomatic asylum to the citizen
Julian Assange, on the basis of the request presented to the President of the
Republic, through a written communication dated in London on June 19, 2012,
and complemented by a communication dated in London on June 25, 2012, for
which the Ecuadorian Government, after carrying out a fair and objective
assessment of the situation exposed by Mr. Assange, attending his own sayings
and argumentations, intakes the requester’s fears, and assumes that there are
indications that allow to assume that there may be a political persecution, or
that such persecution may be produced if the opportune and necessary measures
are not taken to avoid it.

The Government of Ecuador has the certainty that the British Government will
know how to value the justice and rectitude of the Ecuadorian position, and in
consistency with these arguments, trusts that the United Kingdom will offer as
soon as possible the guarantees or safe conducts necessaries and pertinent to
the situation of the asylum requester, so their Governments can honor with
their actions the fidelity they owe to the international laws and institutions
that both nations have contribute to shape along their common history.

It also trusts to maintain inalterable the excellent bonds of friendship and
mutual respect that unite Ecuador and the United Kingdom and their respective
people, confident as they are in the promotion and defense of the same
principles and values, and because they share similar concerns about
democracy, peace, Good Living, which can only be possible if the fundamental
rights of all people are respected.

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