Julian Assange thanks `courageous` Ecuador for asylum

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was finally granted political asylum by Quito, two months after he took refuge in Ecuador`s London embassy.

Updated: Aug 16, 2012, 23:29 PM IST

London: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday said he was grateful to Ecuador President Rafael Correa for granting him political asylum after taking refuge for nearly two months in the country`s London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden.

Assange said in a statement: "I am grateful to the Ecuadorian people, President Rafael Correa and his government. It was not Britain or my home country, Australia, that stood up to protect me from persecution, but a courageous, independent Latin American nation".

Assange termed the asylum as a "historic victory", but acknowledged that there were plenty of "struggles" ahead.

He demanded that the "unprecedented" US investigation against WikiLeaks be stopped.

"While today much of the focus will be on the decision of the Ecuadorian government, it is just as important that we remember Bradley Manning has been detained without trial for over 800 days".

Manning is accused of leaking secret US documents to WikiLeaks, which published it online.

Assange said the task of protecting WikiLeaks, its staff, its supporters and its alleged sources continues.

In Australia, Assange`s mother Christine Assange was all praise for the Ecuadoran leadership for investigating the issue honestly and then taking a decision.

"I don`t think anybody in the international sphere can say that this was not a well-considered decision," she told Asutralian news agency AAP, welcoming the decision.

Christine had last month travelled to Quito where she met President Rafael Correa and other government officials.

"I`m just extremely impressed by Ecuador`s President and his ministers who are educated, ethical and philosophical people ... Who truly and honestly investigated the claims made by my son."

She, however, said she remained concerned about her son and said she was not aware what the next move will be.

"We can`t think too far ahead at the moment," she said.

"We will just see what international conventions the superpowers try to breach next," she said.

Christine also condemned as "absolutely disgraceful" the UK government`s comment that they can enter the embassy premises.

Soon after Ecuador announcement, Assange`s supporters gathered outside the embassy reacted jubilantly and applauded the news.

They cheered and chanted `Assange freedom fighter` and criticised Britian`s threat to storm the Ecuadorian country`s embassy.

However, Assange`s mother was more restrained in her reaction.

"I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to the President, Ecuador`s ministers and the people of Ecuador, for showing the world what a small but high-spirited, educated country with true commitment to human rights and democracy can do."