By Stuart Munckton
WikiLeaks supporters rallied in Sydney on August 17 outside the British consulate. Photo: Peter Boyle
The government of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa gave Julia Gillard’s Australian government a lesson in dignity on August 16 when, facing British threats to raid its London embassy, it granted asylum to WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange.
Ironically, Ecuador’s decision to grant asylum to the Australian citizen who founded the whistleblowing website came on the same day the Australian Senate voted to further punish those seeking asylum in this country.
Adding to the dark irony, WikiLeaks has exposed war crimes committed by the United States in countries such as Afghanistan — from where many of those who seek asylum in Australia have fled.
The diplomatic stand-off between Ecuador and Britain is continuing. Just hours before granting Assange asylum, Ecuador said Britain had threatened, in writing, to revoke the diplomatic standing of Ecuador’s embassy and send in police to arrest Assange.
Dozens of police had gathered outside the embassy in the early morning of August 16 — raising fears of an assault on the building to capture Assange.