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Ecuador grants political asylum to WikiLeaks founder

(RSF/IFEX) - 16 August 2012 - Reporters Without Borders takes note of Ecuador's decision today to grant political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who sought refuge in its embassy in London on 19 June to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning about allegations of date rape and sexual violence.

"We have always thought that Assange's extradition to Sweden could not be legitimate without the strict condition that it would not ultimately lead to extradition to the United States as part of the US justice department's investigation of WikiLeaks," Reporters Without Borders director-general Christophe Deloire said.

"Assange would risk the severest penalties - life imprisonment or even the death penalty - if he were tried in the United States. The resources deployed by the US authorities to track down WikiLeaks activists and supporters and obtain their personal data can only reinforce these concerns.

"After launching a mirror site containing some of the US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks and associated news media, we wrote to the US authorities in December 2010 to remind them of the obvious news interest of the information provided by Assange's site."

Deloire added: "We believe that these revelations are covered by the First Amendment to the US Constitution and we have on several occasions stressed the importance of the light they have shed on serious human rights violations carried out with US government backing in the name of the 'war on terror'."

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