Kristinn Hrafnsson, the Icelander who serves as spokesperson for WikiLeaks, said Ecuador showed courage by granting political asylum to Julian Assange, the organization’s founder.
Kristinn Hrafnsson. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
“I welcome the news and I find it a very brave decision,” he told Norwegian national broadcaster NRK.
Kristinn hasn’t spoken with Assange himself but Assange released a press release on Wednesday, thanking Ecuador for granting him political asylum.
“I am grateful to the Ecuadorean 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,” he wrote.
Assange also mentioned Bradley Manning, the US soldier who leaked extensive classified information from American authorities to WikiLeaks, who has been “detained without trial for over 800 days.”
Assange is suspected of having committed sexual violations in Sweden in 2010. Since December 2011, he has tried to avoid deportation from the UK. After having lost in court, he escaped to the Embassy of Ecuador in London and applied for political asylum.
British authorities have threatened breaking the embassy’s sanctity, to which Ecuadorian authorities have reacted harshly. Ecuadorian Minister for Foreign Affairs Ricardo Patiño announced such actions would have serious consequences.
Kristinn sympathizes with Patiño’s reaction. “It is very serious to use such tactics and it isn’t strange that they would respond with such strong words.”
Hrafnsson, a former reporter at Icelandic national broadcaster RÚV, now dedicates all his time to WikiLeaks and has continued its operations.
“Everything that concerns Julian Assange affects the organization. He is the founder and leader of WikiLeaks. In spite of that, we have continued our operations,” Kristinn said.
WikiLeaks is now taking financial institutions that stopped transactions to WikiLeaks to court. “We already have a verdict from Reykjavík District Court stating the bank blockage was illegal,” Kristinn said.
He is now determined to achieve further victories in court, including in Denmark and Germany.