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Ecuador to grant WikiLeaks founder Assange asylum: report

The founder of whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, Julian Assange, attends a news conference at the City University in London Dec. 1, 2011.


Ecuador President Rafael Correa is set to grant asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Britain's Guardian newspaper said on its website Tuesday, quoting an official in Quito.

"We see Assange's request as a humanitarian issue," an unnamed official told the daily.

"It is clear that when Julian entered the embassy there was already some sort of deal," the official said.

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"We see in his work a parallel with our struggle for national sovereignty and the democratization of international relations."

Mr. Assange, 41, took refuge at the London embassy on June 19 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces police questioning over sexual assault allegations.

WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said Mr. Assange is unaware whether he has been granted asylum. "I cannot confirm. I just spoke to him (Mr. Assange) and he said he had not been notified either."

Mr. Correa said on Monday he expects to respond to Mr. Assange's application for political asylum later this week.

"We expect to have a meeting no later than Wednesday," Mr. Correa said, referring to his diplomats in London.

Even if his asylum request is granted, it is unclear whether Mr. Assange will be allowed to travel to Quito as British police are waiting outside the embassy ready to arrest him for breaching the terms of his bail granted in 2010.

He has embarked on a marathon round of court battles, but finally exhausted all his options under British law in June when the Supreme Court overturned his appeal against extradition.

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WikiLeaks struck a deal with the Guardian to publish a raft of leaked U.S. diplomatic cables in 2010 but the two organizations later suffered an acrimonious falling out.

The former hacker fears that from Sweden, he could subsequently be re-extradited to the United States to stand trial for espionage over the leaked cables.

The mother of the WikiLeaks founder met with Mr. Correa last week to discuss the fate of her son.

With a report from Reuters

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