Julian Assange's mother arrives in Ecuador to plead son's asylum case

Julian Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since applying for political asylum on June 19.

Story highlights

  • "Surely the president and his staff will make the best decision," she says
  • Julian Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June 19
  • If he is sent to the U.S., he "could expect a sentence of death," she says
  • Ecuador says it will weigh the asylum request in its own time

The mother of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will meet with Ecuadorian authorities Monday to urge them to grant her son asylum.

Christine Assange, who arrived in the capital city Quito on Saturday, told reporters she will appeal to Ecuador's stance on human rights during her meeting.

"Surely, the president and his staff will make the best decision," Christine Assange said, according to a report in the state-run El Ciudadano website.

Her son has been holed up inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since applying for political asylum on June 19.

He is seeking to avoid being sent to Sweden over claims of rape and sexual molestation and said he fears if he is extradited there, Swedish authorities could hand him over to the United States.

If her son is sent to the United States, he "could expect a sentence of death or many years in prison with torture as they are doing now with Bradley Manning," Christine Assange said, according to the El Ciudadano report.

"If they did that to a U.S. citizen, they would have fewer qualms about doing it to a foreigner."

Manning is a U.S. Army intelligence analyst suspected of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified military and State Department documents while serving in Iraq. Many of those documents ended up on the WikiLeaks website.

He is being held on charges of aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet, transmitting national defense information and theft of public property or records, among others. He could go to prison for life if convicted.

Ecuador has said it is weighing Julian Assange's asylum request and will make the decision on its own, in its own time.

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"Ecuador will make its own, independent decision," President Rafael Correa said in an interview to a local television station earlier this month. "The case is under review."

Correa noted that capital punishment exists in the United States for a "political crime," and that fact could be sufficient grounds to grant Julian Assange asylum.

Correa also stressed he is not afraid of international repercussions that might stem from whatever decision Ecuador makes.

"We have to see whether everything that's being done in the case of Julian Assange is compatible with ... the constitution and our view of human rights, political rights and due process," the president said.

Julian Assange was arrested in Britain in 2010 because Swedish authorities wanted to question him about the sexual molestation and rape allegations, which he denies. His bail conditions included staying every night at the home of a supporter outside London.

UK police say he violated his bail by staying at the embassy. After he entered it, they served him with notice to turn himself in -- an order he ignored, marking a further violation.

Diplomatic protocol prevents police from entering the embassy to arrest him.

Christine Assange said Saturday her son was being treated well at the embassy.

"I am grateful for the facilities Ecuador offered to my son in London," she said.

Two women have accused Julian Assange of sexually assaulting them in August 2010, when he was visiting Sweden in connection with a WikiLeaks release of internal U.S. military documents. He was arrested in Britain that December and has been fighting extradition since, saying the allegations are retribution for his organization's disclosure of American secrets.

Susan Benn of the Julian Assange defense fund has said the United States had empaneled a grand jury in its goal to press charges against the WikiLeaks founder. Turning himself in to British authorities would start a process that would end with Julian Assange being extradited to the United States, Benn said.

WikiLeaks, which facilitates the anonymous leaking of secret information, has published about 250,000 confidential U.S. diplomatic cables, causing embarrassment to the government and others. It also has published hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. documents relating to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Julian Assange sought refuge at the embassy five days after the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom dismissed a bid to reopen his appeal of the decision to send him to Sweden, his last option in British courts.

British officials have met with Ecuadorian authorities, but no information has been released about those meetings.

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