Sputnik: Why did this happen now?
Andres Mejia Acosta: When it first granted the asylum back in 2012, there was a fairly vocal left-wing president [Rafael] Correa, who offered him asylum as an ideological display of sovereignty. The current President [Lenín] Moreno is more pragmatic and although he comes from the same party he’d be less vocal about sovereignty, ambitions and it would be in his best interest to end the standoff, but without attacking the ideological left wing of his own party. It seems this turned out to be a bad remedy, which can prove worse than the illness itself.
Sputnik: It’s strange that Ecuador’s president had previously spoken out against Assange, and now the country has granted him citizenship. Does it come as a surprise to you at all?
Andres Mejia Acosta: It is a surprise that will have serious legal political consequences in Ecuador. If this was a quick strategy to solve the crisis — I seriously think it was consulted widely, as the idea would have been vetted by any junior diplomat — it was probably not consulted with the president. The case at hand is a serious issue of a diplomat granting secret citizenship to a person under false pretenses. Assange is said to be a resident of the capital Quito – and they will have to respond to justice in Ecuador.
Sputnik: What kind of ramification could this move actually have for the country’s relations with the UK, the US and perhaps even with Sweden?
Andres Mejia Acosta: I think it’ll make things worse in terms of helping Assange leave the embassy and avoiding arrest. There is a pending extradition case that is still valid with the US, is still in current violation of the UK law. And now there is an additional problem that he is now an Ecuadorian citizen – it makes no sense for the Ecuadorian government to offer him asylum in his own embassy or keeping there at the cost of the Ecuadorian taxpayer.
The views and opinions expressed by Andres Mejia Acosta are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect Sputnik’s position.