Update: Ecuador rebuts Assange refuge offer [reported by Al Jazeera]
[Source – The Jerusalem Post]
Quito’s deputy FM: We are ready to give him residence, with no problems and no conditions; ‘Assange could be charged under US Espionage Act.’
Ecuador on Monday offered WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange residency in the South American country.
Speaking to the Internet site Ecuadorinmediato, Ecuadorian Deputy Foreign Minister Kinto Lucas said, “We are ready to give him residence in Ecuador, with no problems and no conditions.”
Lucas added, “We are going to invite him to come to Ecuador so he can freely present the information he possesses and all the documentation, not just on the Internet, but in various public forums.”
However, the deputy foreign minister also expressed some concern about the mass of documents WikiLeaks is in the middle of releasing. He said the release of diplomatic documents “really concerns us greatly.”
The Washington Post on Monday quoted sources familiar with the investigation as saying that Assange and others involved with WikiLeaks could be charged under the US’s Espionage Act.
Earlier Monday, US Attorney General Eric Holder said his government was mounting a criminal investigation.
“This is not saber-rattling,” Holder said. Anyone found to have broken American law “will be held responsible.”
Holder said the latest disclosure, involving classified and sensitive State Department documents, jeopardized the security of the nation, its diplomats, intelligence assets and relationships with foreign governments.
Former CIA general counsel Jeffrey Smith told the Washington Post, he is “confident that the [US] Justice Department is figuring out how to prosecute him.”
Assange, an Australian citizen, was denied permanent residency in Sweden last month, where he is facing a rape charge. On Wednesday, a Swedish appeals court upheld a court order to detain Assange in connection to the rape and sexual molestation charges.
The 39-year-old Australian, who denies the accusations, had appealed a lower court order allowing investigators to bring him into custody and issue an international arrest warrant.
The Svea Appeals court on Wednesday rejected his appeal.