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South American nations back Ecuador

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On alert?:Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange outside the Ecuador embassy in London on Monday.— Photo: AP
On alert?:Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange outside the Ecuador embassy in London on Monday.— Photo: AP

Britain came under pressure Monday after Ecuador’s South American neighbours backed Quito’s decision to grant Julian Assange asylum, but he remained a virtual prisoner in its London embassy.

The WikiLeaks founder made a defiant appearance from the balcony of the Ecuador embassy on Sunday, accusing the United States of conducting a “witch hunt” against his websites and praising Ecuador for its “courage”.

Foreign Ministers of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), meeting in Ecuador’s biggest city Guayaquil, expressed “solidarity” with the decision to grant asylum to the former computer hacker whose anti-secrecy website has enraged Washington.

They also declared support for Ecuador over the “threat of violation of its diplomatic mission”, a reference to Britain highlighting an obscure 1987 law under which its police could enter the embassy and extract Mr. Assange.

A joint statement at the end of the meeting did however urge Ecuador and Britain “to pursue dialogue in search of a mutually acceptable solution”.

Britain insists it never threatened to invade the building and merely made the Ecuadoran government aware of the existence of the law.

The Foreign Office made no immediate response to the declaration of support for Ecuador made at the UNASUR meeting on Sunday.

Britain is already at loggerheads with UNASUR member Argentina, which claims sovereignty over the Falkland Islands. — AFP


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