In addition, the prosecutor noted that there were two options for Assange: to remain in the embassy for 6 or more years or surrender to British authorities.
Radio Sputnik discussed this with Professor Stuart Rees, the director of the Sydney Peace Foundation and Australian academic, human rights activist, and author.
Sputnik: What do you make of the comment by the Ecuadorian prosecutor general, that although in the embassy he's been granted asylum and citizenship, Ecuador can't guarantee that the UK won't extradite Julian Assange?
Sputnik: What options does he have other than to trust them?
Stuart Rees: This is another issue here, which isn't explored. I mean, he is an Australian citizen. He's not an American citizen. He's not a British citizen. He's not an Ecuadorian citizen. He is Australian.
There is no reason why an Australian government, if it had any courage, shouldn't intervene pretty energetically on the basis of international law to demand his deportation back to Australia, to the country he comes from. But that part of the agenda doesn't seem to be explored at all. Yet, in international law terms and in diplomatic terms, it looks rather obvious.
Sputnik: Why hasn't that happened? I mean, he's been in there for quite a while now.
Stuart Rees: Unfortunately, the Australian government pays too much deference to what goes on in Washington, to the demands in Washington. Australia doesn't show public courage on all sorts of human rights principles, unfortunately. It's long overdue that we showed some courage on an issue like this one.
Sputnik: The Ecuadorian prosecutor has also said that the country had received guarantees that Assange wouldn't be extradited to a third country. If that's the case, why would the British authorities want him to turn him over to the US?
Stuart Rees: There is a certain arrogance about the British. After all, the United Nations produced a report some time ago that said that the retention of Assange broke all the principles of human rights and the rules of international law. Almost without reading the document, the British foreign secretary, [Philip] Hammond at the time, simply dismissed it.
British justice is not what it is claimed to be. Unfortunately, Julian's lawyers are advising him, not at the moment, not to trust the assurances that he would not be extradited. That's the dilemma he's in.
Sputnik: If that's the case, if he can't trust those, what are his options right now?
Stuart Rees: Australia could be a much more powerful player, at the moment it behaves passively. The whole question about what does justice look like for this person? After all, he's been convicted of no offence. The Swedish authorities have more or less decided, you know, justice delayed is justice denied, so the issue about the possible rape charges, he's never been charged — let alone convicted.
Sputnik: What legal steps have been taken by Assange so far?
Stuart Rees: Look, we're talking about legal issues, but this is a political issue. The politicians and the diplomats duck and weave on their claims about the law, what the law says and what it doesn't say, what his opportunities in international law are. This is a political issue. They want to punish this guy for the WikiLeaks cables, for the revelations about the appalling way that powerful governments, such as America's, behave. It's a political issue.
Views and opinions, expressed in the article are those of Stuart Rees and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.