Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder, arrives at the Supreme Court in London. On Tuesday, June 19, 2012, Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino announced in Quito that Assange is seeking asylum at Ecuador's embassy in London, and that Ecuador's government is studying the request.
Julian Assange is known for publicizing confidential and controversial information, but now the WikLeaks founder has become the center of controversy after he waltzed into the embassy of Ecuador in London on Tuesday and requested political asylum in an apparent attempt to avoid facing allegations of sexual misconduct in Sweden.
Until Assange’s bid for asylum, British extradition proceedings were set to commence in less than two weeks. However, the Ecuadorian Embassy has said Assange would, for now, remain under its diplomatic protection while officials consider his request. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa must now weigh Assange’s claim that he is being politically persecuted by Britain, Sweden and the United States.
Assange’s situation is testing the complexities of international law with regard to extradition policies and the logistics of diplomatic protection. The British Foreign Office said that Assange was currently “beyond the reach” of British law enforcement officials, but declined to comment on the legalities of what might happen if Assange is granted asylum until it obtained more information.
Join Patt as she explores the practicalities and complexities involved in Assange's request.
Should Julian Assange face the music and answer to the Swedish government or are his claims of political persecution justified? Where does the tradition of asylum stem from and how do countries decided who is entitled to it?
Edwin Smith, Leon Benwell professor of law, international relations, and political science, USC's Gould School of Law
Linda Rabben, anthropologist, human rights activist; author, "Give Refuge to the Stranger: The Past, Present, and Future of Sanctuary"