Julian Assange
Julian Assange

Assange's bid could work: expert

A BID by Wikileaks' founder Julian Assange to seek asylum from Ecuador in South America may pay off, an international law expert said on Wednesday.

Facing extradition to Sweden on allegations of sexual assault, Mr Assange went to Ecuador's London Embassy seeking asylum on Tuesday.

Australian National University law expert Professor Donald Rothwell said if Ecuador granted him asylum, it could put Mr Assange out of the reach of the United States.

"Julian Assange has a right under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to seek asylum from persecution," Prof Rothwell said.

"The Government of Ecuador has a capacity under international law to grant Assange political asylum, in which case he would then be eligible to enjoy protected passage from the United Kingdom to Ecuador.

"If this were to occur, Assange would be able to avoid the current legal proceedings against him seeking his extradition to Sweden to face questioning on sexual assault charges."

Prof Rothwell said although there was a formal extradition treaty between Ecuador and the US, it did not extend to political charges.

"Assange may also be able to rely upon the 'political offence' exception, which is provided for under Article 3 of the 1872 Extradition Treaty. Ecuador could also refuse Assange's extradition to the US on the grounds that Assange had been granted asylum in Ecuador and was therefore beyond the reach of foreign law," he said.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Mr Assange still had Australia's full consular support.


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