Clarifying asylum

The IACHR’s advisory opinion is a moral victory for Julian Assange. But will it impress the U.K. or the U.S.?
June 19th was the sixth anniversary of WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange entering the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He was granted asylum in 2012 by then President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa. Mr. Correa’s successor, Lenin Moreno, has made his hostility to Mr. Assange clear, calling him a “hacker,” “stone in the shoe” and an “inherited problem,” among other things. Ecuador recently cut off Mr. Assange’s Internet access and has restricted phone calls and visitors, rendering him practically incommunicado. In contrast to the fierce anti-Americanism of Mr. Correa, Mr. Moreno is keen to normalise trade relations with the U.S. and attract foreign investment from American businesses.
The IACHR, in response to a request from Ecuador, had given its view on “the institution of asylum and its recognition as a human right in the Inter-American system.” Citing provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights and the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, it considered whether the human right of the asylum-seeker covered both “territorial asylum and diplomatic asylum” and concluded that it did. Without naming Mr. Assange, it ruled that all nations have an obligation to ensure safe passage for asylum seekers to their final territory of asylum. This would mean that the U.K. has an obligation to allow safe passage for Mr. Assange to Ecuador, where he has been granted political asylum as well as citizenship.
The advisory opinion, therefore, represents a moral victory for Mr. Assange in the context of the Moreno regime’s eagerness to get rid of “the stone in the shoe”. But unless the ruling leads to a build-up of stronger public opinion in favour of his safe passage to freedom, it is unlikely to either move the U.K. or impress the OAS member state that represents the biggest threat to Mr. Assange’s freedom: the U.S.
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