The statement by Ricardo Patino, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister, was lengthy and went through numerous arguments, the Ecuadorians’ long history of giving asylum, it concerns that Assange might be deported to the US after any trial in Sweden and that it feels seriously put upon.
The wider justification was that granting human rights to Assange took precedence over other, national, laws, even anti-rape ones.
It is not terribly surprising.
Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa was on good terms with Julian Assange and whilst this decision might annoy more Americans there are benefits to it.
Ecuador will gain an improved profile in the world, as a champion of human rights (albeit for those with the question of sexual assault hanging above their head).
Ecuador will acquire kudos in Latin America for standing up to Gringos and old imperial powers.
Ecuador’s status in the world will be elevated.
Obviously, there are downsides to this, the US will be annoyed, the Swedes seriously cheesed off and the British bemused, as Assange will probably be holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy for years.
The decision to grant Julian Assange was a political one, a calculation of the benefits and risks.
For the moment, Assange is relatively safe, but should he ceased to be politically useful I imagine he could be dropped, like a hot stone.
Update 1: There are plenty of opinions on this issue, many are not terribly well argued or lucid, but here are two that are:
The Blog That Peter Wrote’s Assange.
Update 2: I can’t help thinking that if instead, it had been Dominique Strauss-Kahn in the Ecuadorian embassy, then Assange’s supporters would be screaming for him to be deported to Sweden, at once.
Update 3: A view from Sweden.
Update 4: Owen Jones’ piece on the Indy is by far the best summary of the issues, There should be no immunity for Assange from these allegations.
Update 5: I found (once more) the BAILII PDF of the previous judgement on Assange, paragraphs 121 to 127 are worth reading.
Update 6: David Allen Green at the New Statesman has covered many of these issues and should be read.