The Guardian has reported that government officials in Ecuador said political asylum will be granted to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Ecuador's undersecretary for innovation and new media, however, quickly denied that the decision had been made in a message posted to Twitter. The Spanish translated to: "The government of Ecuador has not made a decision about Julian Assange's asylum request, what's circulating now in the media are rumors."
Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, also took to the social media platform to dispel the "rumor" as "false":
Rumor de asilo a Assange es falso. Todavía no hay ninguna decisión al respecto. Espero informe de Cancillería.
— Rafael Correa (@MashiRafael) August 14, 2012
But, in response to the president's statement, the journalist who reported the story for the Guardian, Irene Caselli, tweeted that her sources stood by the story:
— Irene Caselli (@irenecaselli) August 14, 2012
There's been a lot of talk recently about whether the South American country would grant Assange asylum, especially after Correa said that he hoped to make the decision this week.
But — whether it's official yet or not — there would be a critical problem with an asylum offer, anyway. The odds of Assange actually being able to make the move to Ecuador still rest heavily with British authorities.
Assange has been holed up at the Ecuadorean embassy in London for weeks. He violated his bail terms in Britain to seek refuge there — to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning over alleged sexual offenses — and is subject to arrest by police if he sets foot on British soil, Reuters reported.
International law professor Michael Doyle told GlobalPost that offers of asylum apply to embassies, meaning that, were there to be an asylum offer, "if Assange leaves [the embassy] he can be arrested."
More from GlobalPost: Assange and Ecuador: mutually toxic
Asked for examples of precedent for asylum offers that failed or succeeded to go through because of such complicated diplomatic arrangements, Doyle noted the case of a cardinal who took refuge at the US embassy in Budapest for years, during the Cold War. Foreign Policy appeared to note the same case.
"The only curious exception I can recall was the recent spat with China over the dissident who was picked up from his house arrest by a US car and taken to the embassy," Doyle wrote in an e-mail. "But I would not recommend Ecuador trying that."