Ecuador grants political asylum to Julian Assange—Tariq Ali speaks to Russia Today

Today, the Ecuadorian government announced that it is granting political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Assange has spent the last two months living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, seeking to avoid extradition to Sweden.

Meanwhile, the British Foreign Office is not only continuing to bar Assange from leaving the country (they claim their obligation is to extradite Assange to Sweden), but has also threatened to storm the Ecudorian embassy. “Under British law we can give them a week’s notice before entering the premises and the embassy will no longer have diplomatic protection,” said a Foreign Office spokesman. “But that decision has not yet been taken. We are not going to do this overnight. We want to stress that we want a diplomatically agreeable solution.”

In response to these threats, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said simply, “We are not a British colony.”

Since last night, pro-Assange protesters have been gathering outside the U.K. embassy to show their support for the “freedom fighter” and their disapproval of Britain’s response to Ecuador’s decision, which could have far-reaching consequences: If Britain succeeds in sending Assange to Sweden, where he faces questioning for alleged charges of sexual misconduct, he could then be extradited to the United States.

As the founder of WikiLeaks, Assange has played a key role in the fight for transparency, releasing secret documents such as the Iraq War Logs, the Afghan War Diary, the Collateral Murder video, U.S. State Department diplomatic cables, files pertaining to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, and, most recently, the Syria Files.

While the standoff between Ecuador and Britain continues, Patino remains hopeful that British authorities will honor their decision. As he said in a statement released after the decision was announced, ”We trust that the UK will offer as soon as possible the guarantee for the safe passage of asylum for Mr. Assange and they will respect those international agreements they have signed in the past.”

This tension between Ecuador and Britain is nothing new—Ecuador, led by President Rafael Correa, is part of the left bloc in Latin America, which Tariq Ali analyzes in Pirates of the Caribbean: Axis of Hope. Just hours before Ecuador’s announcement, Ali spoke to Russia Today about Assange:

There is no telling when a solution will be reached, but in the meantime, there is no shortage of protesters willing to spend the night on the sidewalk, risking arrest outside of Ecuador’s London embassy, to show Assange that his supporters are still behind him.

From the archive

  • The Oil Wars and World Politics

    February 23, 2011

    This Spring, Union College’s Minvera Series will address the theme “Oil: A World in Short Supply.” Alongside speakers such as Mia Birk (“Pedaling toward a Healthier Planet”), Robin Blackburn (“Sweet Power: Global Powers and the Premium Commodity from Sugar to Oil”), Michael Klare (“The Perils of Extreme Oil: Extractive Strategies in the Twilight Era of Petroleum”) and Rick Ott (“Exxon Valdez to Gulf Disaster: Changing the Endgame”), Tariq Ali will present a lecture entitled, “The Oil Wars and World Politics.”

    May 16, 2011 7.00pm – 9.00pm Union College Nott Memorial 807 Union Street Schenectady, NY 12308 United States

  • Tariq Ali: Anti-Imperialist Struggles After 9/11

    September 17, 2012

    On October 27-28, the conference on Anti-Imperialist Struggles After 9/11 takes place in Copenhagen.

    Tariq Ali will be speaking about anti-imperialist stuggles and counter attacks at 10.30-11.30 on October 27th. Other speakers include Omar Shehada and Cesar Taguba. At 16.15 on Saturday there will be a roundtable debate attended by all the speakers of the day.

    For more information, visit the Internationalt Forum.

    The full timetable is as follows:

    Saturday:

    10.00 – 10.30 Welcome

    10.30 – 11.30 Tariq Ali: Antiimperialist struggles and imperialisms counterattacks worldwide after 9/11

    11.30 – 11.45 Break

    11.45 – 12.45 Colombia: Dolly. Antiimperialist struggle in Colombia and the region after 9/11

    12.45 – 13.45 Lunch

    13.45 – 14.45 Palestine: Omar Shehada: The Palestinian Liberation Struggle in the light of the War on Terror and the Arab Revolt

    14.45 – 15.00 Break

    15.00 – 16.00 Philippines:  …

  • Interview: ‘The Time is Right for a Palace Revolution’

    November 13, 2008

    ‘The Time is Right for a Palace Revolution’, an interview with Tariq Ali by Malcolm Azania for Vue Weekly, November 30, 2009

    Tariq Ali spoke with Vue Weekly by telephone from his home in England a week before the recent American election. Here is some of what he had to say on Afghanistan, US hypocrisy and what the Obama presidency might mean.

    Vue Weekly: Some say recent US airstrikes in Pakistan will quicken the rise of Pakistan’s Taliban to state power. Will they?

    Tariq Ali: [The imminent fall of Pakistan] has been the standard view of many mainstream western journalists for five or six years now. And it’s completely misguided. I think the big problem in Pakistan is not the danger of Talibanization. These people who are pro-Taliban are a tiny minority. The real problem is the social  …