CANBERRA (Reuters) - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said on Friday that he was ready for a life in Ecuador and said the country had been "quite supportive" of his bid for asylum.
Assange is holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London, where he has sought asylum in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning on sexual assault charges, and he faces arrest by British police if he leaves the embassy.
In an telephone interview with Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio from the embassy, Assange said he was concerned about being sent to the United States to face possible charges related to the WikiLeaks website, which published thousands of leaked U.S. diplomatic cables in 2010.
"The Ecuadorean people have been quite supportive. I heard (the) Ecuadorean Ambassador in Australia has been making supportive comments. They are sympathetic over a long period of time," he said.
"We hope the asylum application will be viewed favorably. Now it's is a matter of gathering extensive evidence of what is happening in the U.S. and submitting that with a formal request."
He said he had no indication of when Ecuador would decide on his asylum claim, and said his move was aimed at raising awareness of U.S. moves to prosecute him over the 2010 leaks.
Leftist Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa reiterated on Thursday that his government plans to do a very thorough analysis of Assange's application before making a decision.
"We could not allow that a person who has asked for asylum may have to face the death penalty, especially for political crimes," Correa told reporters.
"We could not accept that there may not have been due process, we could not accept that there may be political prosecution against the ideas expressed by Assange," said Correa, as he listed the reasons why Ecuador may decide to grant asylum to Assange.
Assange fears that if sent to Sweden, he would then be extradited to the United States where he believes he could face criminal charges punishable by death.
He said he was not running away from questioning over sexual assault allegations in Sweden, but said the Swedish prosecutors had refused to visit him in Britain or contact him by phone.
"This issue is about a very serious matter in the United States," he said, adding Swedish authorities said he would be detained on arrival in Sweden.
Assange said his case was currently before a U.S. grand jury, which would decide whether charges could be laid. He said U.S. authorities have been careful not to confirm or deny any grand jury investigation.
"There are subpoenas everywhere. We have received subpoenas, there are subpoenas in my name," he said, adding people have been detained at U.S. airports and been questioned by the FBI and asked to become informers.
Assange also hit out Australia for not taking stronger action to protect him, saying he had no consular contacts since December 2010 apart from telephone text messages.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said Assange has received more consular support than anyone in a similar position, while Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said Australia has regularly made representations about Assange to authorities in the U.S., Sweden and Britain.
"It is an effective declaration of abandonment," Assange said."
"Julian Assange granted asylum by Ecuador - British foreign secretary says WikiLeaks founder won't be allowed out of country
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has hailed the decision of the government of Ecuador to grant him political asylum, calling it "courageous."
Assange, a 41-year-old Australian, has been holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London since June 19, just 10 days before he was supposed to turn himself in to police.
He is trying to avoid extradition from the U.K. to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning for alleged sexual misconduct. He has exhausted all his legal avenues in his bid to avoid extradition.
"It was not Britain or my home country, Australia, that stood up to protect me from persecution, but a courageous, independent Latin American nation," Assange said in a statement.
Speaking in Quito, Ricardo Patino, the foreign minister of Ecuador, announced the decision to grant Assange asylum. Patino said Assange faces the threat of political persecution including the possibility of extradition to the United States, where Patino said the Australian would not get a fair trial. Patino added that neither the U.K. nor Sweden would offer Ecuador assurances that Assange would not be turned over to another country.
"It is not impossible that he would be treated in a cruel manner, condemned to life in prison, or even the death penalty," Patino said. "Ecuador is convinced that his procedural rights have been violated."
The U.K. has said it will arrest Assange when he leaves the embassy.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Assange will not be allowed out of the the country.
Hague said Assange will not be granted passage from the U.K. because "there is no legal basis for us to do so."
Hague also rejected suggestions that the extradition is linked to the work of WikiLeaks or U.S. desires to try Assange.
The U.K. Foreign Office said it was "disappointed" with Ecuador's decision.
"Under our law, with Mr. Assange having exhausted all options of appeal UK authorities are under binding obligation to extradite him to Sweden," the Foreign Office said on Twitter.
"We shall carry out that obligation. The Ecuadorean government's decision this afternoon does not change that."
The Foreign Office said it was committed to a negotiated solution that would let it "carry out our obligations under the Extradition Act."
On Wednesday, the U.K. threatened to use a 1987 law to lift the Ecuadorean embassy's diplomatic status. The Foreign Office said it was Britain's "obligation to extradite Mr. Assange."
Sweden summoned Ecuador's ambassador in the wake of the decision to grant Assange asylum.
"We want to tell them that it's unacceptable that Ecuador is trying to stop the Swedish judicial process," Swedish Foreign Minister spokeswoman Anders Jorle said.
Assange's WikiLeaks website infuriated the United States when it began publishing thousands of diplomatic cables, war logs from Afghanistan and Iraq, and files about Guantanamo Bay."
"Israel Shamir writes on Unz about how he lobbied Russia's government to say something on behalf of Julian Assange, allegedly still 'living at the London Ecuador Embassy' but now incommunicado, 'having his internet services cut off'
Shamir reports that Russia's quiet reply, was that Julian Assange is well-known to be a fraud run by Western intel agencies, the whole London 'embassy' situation is a hoax and does not merit Russian government attention ... 'Spooky Shamir' - living both in Haifa Israel and Moscow - is bitter and complains Russia only wants media friends on the Russia gov payroll
Before he died, CIA top advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski openly admitted pro-Israel Julian Assange is a fraud run by Western intel agencies
Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu has openly admitted Julian Assange is an asset of Israeli intelligence, and will shield Israel from any damaging 'leaks'
Reports are that it is a hoax that Julian Assange is 'living at the London Ecuador embassy', Assange apparently shuttled in & out from his 'Embassy closet' to the big country house of a Rothschild friend where he seems to actually live, where Julian has all those nice changes of clothing & grooming aids for his video 'appearances' or meetings with people such as Israel Shamir
Hence under-security-orders UK police 'watch' the Ecuador embassy in London, so MI5 - MI6 can move Assange in and out ... the Ecuador embassy staff perhaps getting bribe dosh to play long
Assange is anti-9-11-truth, and a big fan of Israel
Assange has had lawyers also serving the Rothschild family
Assange is represented by ultra-Zionist Alan Dershowitz
Authorities do not cut off Assange's fund-raising platforms despite all his allegedly 'illegal' activity, though all sorts of people are getting blocked on Twitter, Patreon and other platforms these days merely for not being nice
At least two leakers were quickly dead after trusting Julian Assange & contacting him - Seth Rich & Peter W Smith - and maybe many others we will never hear about ... in Smith's case, Assange says he never received Smith's files .. ha
Assange & Edward Snowden & Glenn Greenwald refuse to publicise the files they have on the bribery of USA national federal Virginia judges, even though ... those are the same judges who would put Assange & Snowden themselves 'on trial' in the USA, and the files would totally block any extradition of Assange or Snowden
Julian Assange & Edward Snowden tout the Tor browser, developed by CIA-tied spooks (US Naval Research & DARPA Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency) ... apparently created for elite paedophiles, who can use Tor to access paedophilia & trafficked children without local police agencies / internet providers observing ... tho the NSA and CIA apparently can track through TOR ... Wikileaks compels you to use Tor to contact them
The ACLU American Civil Liberties Union supports Assange, the ACLU also having supported the paedophilic NAMBLA, the North American Man Boy Love Association"