Assange asylum bid could hurt Ecuador's US image, says ambassador in Washington


Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, centre, arrives at the High Court in central London, on July 12, 2011.



Ecuador's ambassador to Washington Nathalie Cely says that granting political asylum to the Australian-born Wikileaks founder Julian Assange could discredit Quito in the US.

"Giving asylum to Assange would be used as ammunition to attack the country," Cely told Quito's Radio Majestad in an interview reported by AFP.

Assange, 41, has been holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London since June 19 to avoid being extradited to Sweden on rape charges, and Cely says pressure groups are already using the situation to damage Ecuador's relations with American business leaders and policymakers.

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CNN says the deadline for Assange to be extradited passed on July 7 "with no apparent movement."   The UK Supreme Court dismissed his bid to reopen his appeal against extradition to Sweden on June 14, and Metropolitan Police say he is now violating the terms of his bail.

Ecuadorian officials confirmed that their government is still considering Assange's application for asylum, according to Associated Press.  Ecuador's leftist President Rafael Correa has often been at odds with Washington, the news agency explains, and offered Mr Assange asylum in 2010

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