Latin America, Caribbean unite to support Ecuador over Assange

Permanent council of the Organization of American States in Washington (Reuters / Jason Reed)
All the members of the Organization of American States, except for the US and Canada, have stated their solidarity and support of Ecuador’s decision to grant asylum to Julian Assange at a meeting of 35-member bloc in Washington.

Senior officials from all states of the Americas adopted a resolution of solidarity with Ecuador. They reaffirmed their “respect of sovereignty” and denounced “the use of forces in solving conflicts.”

All members approved the full text of the document except for Canada and the United States, which refused to express “solidarity” with Quito.

The meeting was called by Ecuador which stated that Britain had threatened to storm its embassy in London to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who had taken refuge there.

The final version of the resolution, however, did not include reference to the alleged UK threats due to objections from the United States, Canada, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago and others.

Britain, which has observer status at the OAS, insisted it had made no such threats.

"I would like to state unequivocally at the outset that at no time has the British government made any threat against the embassy of Ecuador. Respect for and compliance with international law is at the heart of the foreign policy of the United Kingdom," Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Washington Philip Barton said.

During the debate Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino condemned Britain for what he called an "assault on our sovereignty."

The United States did not vote against the resolution, but a US State Department representative once again urged the OAS to allow Ecuador, Sweden and the United Kingdom to resolve the matter among themselves.

"It involves matters of criminal justice, European law and the sovereign extradition arrangements between the United Kingdom and Sweden, two nations with very well-respected judicial systems," said US Department of State representative John D. Feeley.

Following the OAS meeting, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa expressed his gratitude to the Latin American states that backed Quito in a televised address.

"We don't have anything other than words of gratitude to our brothers of Latin America, to their governments, their people for their overwhelming and decided support for the sovereign position of Ecuador, and the rejection of this explicit threat to enter an embassy and arrest a person granted diplomatic asylum," he said on Friday.

Earlier, the Ecuadorian president said in an exclusive interview with RT that “Once we granted asylum to Assange, he is under the protection of Ecuador, and we will do everything to make sure this protection is effective.”