Conflict & Justice

WikiLeaks: Latin Leaders Unite in Support of Assange Asylum


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks to the media outside the Ecuador embassy in west London August 19, 2012. Assange used the balcony of Ecuador's London embassy on Sunday to berate the United States for threatening freedom of expression and called on U.S. President Barack Obama to end what he called a witch-hunt against WikiLeaks. REUTERS/Olivia Harris (BRITAIN - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW MEDIA)



Ecuador's decision to grant asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange received support from several Latin American nations over the weekend.

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A meeting of foreign ministers called the Union of South American Nations backed the Ecuadorean government and condemned Britain for threatening to forcibly remove Assange from the embassy.

Natalia Viana directs Publica, a Brazilian non-profit investigative journalism center. She says diplomatic asylum has a played a key role in Latin American history and is a "sacred institution" there.

"It has saved dozens of opposition leaders during our very very bloody dictatorship," Viana says. "None of the leaders have said we support Assange, or we support what he's doing. They are saying we support Ecuador because Ecuador is an independent state and that should be respected."