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Ecuador Doubts Assange Could Get Fair U.S. Trial

Ecuador's president fears Julian Assange would not get a fair trial in the United States and has insisted that Britain and Sweden guarantee they will not extradite the WikiLeaks founder.

Assange took shelter in Ecuador's London embassy after exhausting all appeals against his extradition to Sweden for questioning on sex crime allegations, and Quito later granted him asylum, sparking a diplomatic row.

The WikiLeaks founder has said he fears Sweden intends to hand him over to the United States, where he could face prosecution over his part in the leaking of hundreds of thousands of secret battlefield reports and embassy cables.

Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa said Wednesday in an interview with state-run television that if Assange were to be extradited to the United States, "there would be no guarantee of due process."

"What we want is to insure a fair trial and the right to life for Mr. Assange, but there are clear and serious indications of political persecution," he said.

The 41-year-old Australian former hacker has denied the sex crime allegations and accused Washington of carrying out a "witch hunt" aimed at silencing critics of its policies.

Assange on Wednesday accused Sweden of "consigning neutrality to the dustbin of history" by taking part in the NATO-led war in Afghanistan and backing last year's no-fly zone in Libya, which helped rebels topple Moammar Gadhafi.

His remarks were carried in Spanish by Ecuadoran state television, which interviewed him inside the London embassy.

The United States called WikiLeaks a national security threat following its release of thousands of war reports from Iraq and Afghanistan as well as a trove of often-embarrassing classified State Department cables in 2010.

Correa said there were three ways to resolve the diplomatic impasse with London: either Britain and Sweden could guarantee that Assange won't be sent to a third country, Swedish prosecutors could question him in the Ecuadoran embassy, or British authorities could allow him to leave without arresting him.

Source: Agence France Presse


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