Julian Assange Seeks Asylum at Ecuador Embassy
On June 19, 2012, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino announced in Quito that Julian Assange is seeking asylum at Ecuador’s embassy in London, and that Ecuador’s government is studying the request. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Photo)
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is seeking political asylum in Ecuador after taking refuge in its embassy in London Tuesday.
The Ecuadorian embassy in Washington, D.C. confirmed to ABC News that the 40-year-old Australian national, who faces extradition to Sweden over allegations that he sexually assaulted two women, was on the grounds of the embassy in London and had requested asylum. The Ecuadorian government said in a statement that it is "evaluating the request of Mr. Julian Assange and whatever decision that we adopt about him will take into account the respect for the norms and principles of international law."
According to the Ecuadorian government’s statement, Assange said he was seeking asylum because his home country "had declared that they will neither defend nor guarantee the least [of my rights] in front of any government."
"These statements make it impossible for me to return to my home and place me in a state of indefensibility," the statement quotes Assange as saying.
Assange accused Sweden of investigating him because of "political crimes" in the United States, "a place with the death penalty for said offenses."
Though it remains unclear how Assange reached the Ecuadorian embassy, news first broke of his seeking asylum on the Wikileaks twitter account, which tweeted "Julian Assange has requested political asylum and is under the protection of the Ecuadorian embassy in London."
Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Photo
On June 19, 2012, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino announced in Quito that Julian Assange is seeking asylum at Ecuador’s embassy in London, and that Ecuador’s government is studying the request.
Ecuador’s deputy foreign minister had indicated publicly in 2010 that Assange could come live in the South American country. "We are open to giving him residence in Ecuador, without any kind of trouble and without any kind of conditions," said Kintto Lucas. Lucas is no longer the deputy foreign minister.
Assange has been under house arrest in a mansion in the British countryside since December 2010. He has hosted a television talk show on the international cable channel Russia Today, or RT, from the house since March. Last week, the highest court in Britain rejected his appeal to block his extradition to Sweden.
In August 2010, police in Sweden began investigating accusations of sexual assault against Assange made by two women. According to British police documents, one of the accusers claims Assange pulled her clothes off, pinioned her arms and legs and refused to use a condom. She told a friend that the act was both violent and the worst sex she’d ever had. A British attorney representing Swedish prosecutors told the court earlier this year that Assange had raped the second woman while she was sleeping.
Assange has denied any wrongdoing.
Last month, in a 5-2 vote, the British Supreme Court upheld the validity of an arrest warrant made by a Swedish prosecutor to question Assange over the assault accusations.
In its ruling, the court dismissed Assange’s argument that the Swedish Prosecution Authority, which issued the warrant in November 2010, did not have the legal authority to do so.
But the court also granted a request from Assange’s attorney for 14 days to make an application to reopen the case. The court rejected the bid to reconsider his case on June 14, clearing the way for him to be extradited to Sweden before the end of June.
Bendtner banned, fined for flashing pants
Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner has been banned for one competitive fixture and fined just over £80,000 by UEFA after he lowered his shorts after scoring in the Euro 2012 clash with Portugal.
Bendtner, 24, was found guilty of improper conduct by European football’s governing body after he revealed the logo of a betting company on his underpants in the match on June 13. It was the Arsenal man’s second goal of the contest, but Portugal went on to win the game 3-2.
The incident was deemed to contravene UEFA’s strict regulations against so-called ‘ambush marketing’, and as a result handed him a 100,000-euro penalty.
When questioned afterwards about the incident, Bendtner, who spent last season on loan at Sunderland, said: "It is just a pair of lucky boxer shorts that I used in the first game as well and have used before the tournament."
He added: "I didn’t know I was breaking any rules but I am aware of that now."
UEFA took a dim view, however, and Bendtner is now set to miss Denmark’s opening game in World Cup 2014 qualifying.
The player has three days to lodge an appeal.
Ancient ‘Vampire’ Bodies Found In Bulgaria
Bulgarian archaeologists have unearthed centuries-old skeletons with iron rods through their chests – believed to have been victims of an old anti-vampire ritual.
According to Bozhidar Dimitrov, head of the National History Museum in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, two skeletons from the Middle Ages have been discovered near the Black Sea town of Sozopol.
Ancient skeletons unearthed in Bulgaria are believed to have been victims of an anti-vampire ritual. Photo: Sk …
"These two skeletons stabbed with rods illustrate a practice which was common in some Bulgarian villages up until the first decade of the 20th century," said Mr Dimitrov.
Widespread superstition led to iron rods being hammered through the chest bones and hearts of those who did evil during their lifetimes for fear they would return after death to feast on the blood of the living.
People believed the rod would pin them down to prevent them from leaving their graves at midnight and terrorising people as they slept, the historian explained.
An archaeologist cleans dust from a skeleton dating back to the Middle Ages in Sozopol, Bulgaria. Photo: PA
In 2004, archaeologist Petar Balabanov unearthed six nailed-down skeletons at a site near the eastern town of Debelt.
He said the pagan rite also was practised in neighbouring Serbia and other Balkan countries.
Vampire legends form an important part of the region’s folklore.
The most famous tale is that of Romanian count Vlad the Impaler, known as Dracula, who staked his war enemies and drank their blood.