(AP) – Ecuador says it’s giving asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who remains holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London. But the decision won’t have any immediate effect on the standoff at the embassy, since British authorities are still vowing to arrest him if he leaves the embassy and extradite him to Sweden, where he faces sexual assault allegations. Still, Britain says it’s disappointed by the decision.
Sweden is reacting angrily to the move by Ecuador. It has summoned Ecuador’s ambassador, and is calling the asylum decision “unacceptable.”
Ecuador’s foreign minister says Ecuador found that Assange faces a real threat of political persecution including the threat of extradition to the United States, where he says the Australian would not get a fair trial and could face the death penalty.
Assange gained worldwide prominence after his website repeatedly released huge troves of U.S. secret documents. The moves outraged Americans and led to calls from U.S. politicians to have him hunted down like a terrorist.