Ecuador officially granted asylum to Julian Assange today, reasoning that his human rights might be violated if he were turned over to UK authorities. "We can state that there is a risk that he will be persecuted politically," Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said, according to the Guardian. He argued that if Assange were ever to fall into US hands he would not receive a fair trial and could face the death penalty, reports the AP.
Patino also harshly rebuked the UK for threatening to raid Ecuador's embassy, which is traditionally considered sovereign territory. Ecuador "is not a British colony," he said, though he did express hope that Ecuador's "friendship with the United Kingdom will remain intact." The UK has insisted that Ecuador's decision is irrelevant; it will still attempt to arrest Assange. "It is too early to say when or if Britain will revoke the Ecuadorean embassy's diplomatic status," a Foreign Office spokesman told Reuters.