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You're reading: Ecuador: WikiLeaks’ Assange hires Spanish jurist Garzon

QUITO - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has hired Spanish jurist Baltasar Garzon as a legal adviser as he seeks political asylum in Ecuador, the Andean country's foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, said on July 24.

Assange has been taking refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in
London since June 19. The Australian anti-secrecy campaigner,
who enraged Washington in 2010 when his WikiLeaks website
published secret U.S. diplomatic cables, is wanted for
questioning in Sweden over sex crime allegations.

Assange broke his bail terms and requested asylum in
Ecuador. He denies any wrongdoing in Sweden and says he fears
that if extradited there, he could be sent on to the United
States, where he believes he could face criminal charges
punishable by death.

The Ecuadorean government has said it will take as long as
needed to make a thorough analysis of Assange’s asylum
application before making a decision.

“Mr. Assange has requested the services of lawyer Baltasar
Garzon to deal with his case. … Of course he has the right to
hire and look for the legal advice that he needs or may need for
the asylum request,” Patino told reporters in Quito.

Human rights investigator Garzon is best known for ordering
the arrest of former Chilean military leader Augusto Pinochet in
1998.

For three decades, Garzon has made a career of tackling the
most complex and controversial of cases, winning notoriety as
well as a clutch of powerful enemies in Spain’s ruling class.
Politicians across the spectrum have been implicated or targeted
in his investigations over the years.

He also stirred up controversy with an attempt to order an
investigation into the killing of tens of thousands of civilians
during the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, who died in
1975.

Patino said he welcomed Garzon’s involvement in the Assange
case because the Ecuadorean government had “a very good
relationship” with the jurist. Garzon is part of an
international panel that was set up to oversee the ongoing
judicial overhaul in the OPEC-member country.

Neither the U.S. nor Swedish authorities have charged
Assange with anything. Swedish prosecutors want to question him
about allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two former
WikiLeaks volunteers in 2010.

Assange says he had consensual sex with the women.

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