Ecuador fears US economic backlash for sheltering WikiLeaks' Assange

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 August, 2012, 4:27am

The president of Ecuador has warned the United States against taking economic revenge on his nation for granting asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

"It should be unacceptable for us to be subjected to commercial reprisals for having granted asylum to a citizen," Rafael Correa told industrialists in Quito. The socialist leader, who is often at odds with Washington, said Ecuador's sovereignty was "not for sale" and claimed bowing to "pressure" from the US would be a terrible "symptom of neocolonialism".

Correa's statement follows domestic fears the US will not renew trade benefits under the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) due to expire on June 30 next year.

Earlier this month, Ecuador granted asylum to Assange, who has taken refuge at the country's London embassy since June.

Assange is avoiding extradition to Sweden, where he is sought for questioning over sexual assault allegations.

He claims that if extradited to Sweden, he would be deported to the US, where he fears prosecution over WikiLeaks' release of a vast cache of confidential US government files.

Assange remains in the embassy, unable to leave without the risk of arrest by British police.