Why did Ecuador protect Julian Assange for such a long time?


According to this article Ecuador considers inviting a third-party mediator to tackle its long-standing disagreement with Britain over the fate of Julian Assange:

The foreign minister said the situation was "unsustainable".

The Wikileaks founder has been confined to the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012, claiming political asylum.

Julian Assange's stay in Ecuador's embassy was long and quite complicated, involving several countries: Sweden, US and UK (source).

Clearly this situation created some unpleasant discussions between Ecuador and other countries involved, by not allowing Julian Assange to face the charges.

Question: Why did Ecuador protect Julian Assange for such a long time?


Posted 2018-01-10T15:41:04.323

Reputation: 43 325

3This answer (to a different question) apparently answers this question, too. – bytebuster – 2018-01-10T16:39:35.760

1I bet you they're asking that question too... – Valorum – 2018-01-15T00:23:45.743



Ecuador doesn't have much to gain by Julian Assange's continued presence in the embassy but it would severely damage their reputation internationally if they reneged on their offer of asylum and expelled him. Indeed, they have recently granted him citizenship, which only increases their moral obligations to him.

I don't believe that they imagined the stand-off would last this long, and expect they would be only too glad to see him to leave voluntarily. However, whilst the UK government remain happy to wait it out, they don't have much of an option.


Posted 2018-01-10T15:41:04.323

Reputation: 3 504

2Not much of an option without totally losing face. Or maybe there is a law in Ecuador that they can't withdraw asylum once granted. – gnasher729 – 2018-01-13T15:01:08.630

3I believe that granting him citizenship was the first step in their brilliant plan of making him a diplomat. Unfortunately the UK straight up refused to accept his credentials. – Valorum – 2018-01-15T00:27:26.933


Assange has been subject to illegal detention. Even a UN panel has decided in his favour (see here)

The same question could be asked when asylum is offered to a Chinese by the US or other countries: they are trying to defend the civil rights of this person.

Assange has not been formally charged with anything ever, but the US has never denied rumours of having a sealed indictment against him. In addition, the US has always refused to give an assurance it will not try to extradite Assange (where he could be sent to Guantanamo). Assange has many time offered to surrender to UK authorities if the US gave such assurance.

Therefore, Ecuador is protecting Julian Assange civil rights.


Posted 2018-01-10T15:41:04.323


9But the question is "what does Ecuador get out of all this"? Embassy asylum is not a common process. They wouldn't bother for any common political refugee, so why do they for Assange? – Philipp – 2018-01-12T16:12:53.487

3Asylum is a common process for many countries. Assange is in the embassy because the UK is refusing safe passage. The real question is not what Ecuador is getting out of this, but what the UK is getting out of this, since they wasted millions, lost a UN panel review, threatened to invade an embassy, etc. That is the real question – None – 2018-01-12T16:18:17.517

1Asylum is a common process but embassy asylum isn't. Why the UK is wasting so many resources on the embassy siege is also a good question, but not the one asked here. – Philipp – 2018-01-12T16:20:11.850

5As I said, embassy asylum is the only choice for Ecuador, but it is because of the UK, it wasn't Ecuador choice. Ecuador has tried everything to get Assange out of the embassy and into Ecuador (of which country he is now a citizen) even by giving him diplomatic immunity that the UK refused. As for why the UK is using so many resources I know that is not the question, in fact I just mentioned that in a comment, not in my answer – None – 2018-01-12T16:45:34.503

@Valorum I am deleting your comments because they are not relevant to improving this answer. Comments on answers should be about the answer. They are not for having discussions about points which aren't even mentioned in the answer. See the help for the commenting privilege for more information about what comments should be used for.

– Philipp – 2018-01-15T15:49:11.023


"Assange has been subject to illegal detention. Even a UN panel has decided in his favour" - As Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate) Emma Arbuthnot said Case No: 1800196207, Ruling No. 2, where Assange sought to have the arrest warrant withdrawn, "The [the United Nations’ Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention] appears to have based its conclusions on some misunderstandings of what occurred after Mr Assange’s arrest." http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/Misc/2018/B2.html

The dissenting opinion in the Working Group's opinion says similarly.

– Lag – 2018-03-12T15:42:05.797


"Assange has not been formally charged with anything ever" - as the High Court said in [2011] EWHC 2849 (Admin) Case No: C0/1925/2011, re differences in procedure, "If the commencement of criminal proceedings were to be viewed as dependent on whether a person had been charged, it would be to look at Swedish procedure through the narrowest of common law eyes. Looking at it through cosmopolitan eyes on this basis, criminal proceedings have commenced against Mr Assange. In our view therefore, Mr Assange fails on the facts on this issue." http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2011/2849.html

– Lag – 2018-03-12T15:45:48.060


"In addition, the US has always refused to give an assurance it will not try to extradite Assange (where he could be sent to Guantanamo)." - as the Senior District Judge Howard Riddle said in [2011] EW Misc 5 (MC), "There was at one stage a suggestion that Mr Assange could be extradited to the USA (possibly to Guantanamo Bay or to execution as a traitor). The only live evidence on the point came from the defence witness Mr Alhem who said it couldn’t happen. " http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/Misc/2011/5.html. Assange didn't pursue that argument again in court.

– Lag – 2018-03-12T15:52:44.387


Given the long history of the USA in meddling with the affairs of South America, mainly to their detriment (I expect they were playing divide and conquer), it's not suprising that Ecuador gave Julian Assange sanctuary. He was only evicted after a right-wing and neoliberal regime more sympathetic to the USA came to power.

To get an insight into this meddling one could look at some of the many books that Noam Chomsky, the renowned linguist and political theorist, has written on the subject.

Mozibur Ullah

Posted 2018-01-10T15:41:04.323

Reputation: 3 678