Ecuador grants Julian Assange asylum
UPDATE: The Ecuadorian government last night announced it would grant the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange political asylum.
But within minutes of the announcement the British government issued a statement saying the decision does not change its "binding obligation" to extradite him to Sweden.
The South American country's Foreign Affairs Minister, Ricardo Patino, told a news conference in Quito that should Assange be extradited from Britain to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning about allegations of rape and sexual assault, there was a "clear possibility" he could then be transferred to a third country.
Assange says he fears deportation from Sweden to the US, which might seek to convict him for his website's release of secret official documents.
The evidence "backs up Julian Assange's fears that he is a victim of political persecution as a result of his determined defense for freedom of expression and a free press," Mr Patino said.
Read more at Brisbane Times
EARLIER: Foreign Minister Bob Carr says Australia has no intention of intervening in WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's attempts to claim asylum in Ecuador.
Mr Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy since June after a British court ordered his extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations.
Ecuador was due to announce the result of Mr Assange's asylum claim at 10pm (AEST) on Thursday.
Earlier on Thursday WikiLeaks released a statement alleging the British government had "threatened to forcefully enter the Ecuadorian embassy in London and arrest Mr Assange".
The letter from the British government read: "You need to be aware that there is a legal base in the UK, the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, that would allow us to take actions in order to arrest Mr Assange in the current premises of the Embassy.
"We sincerely hope that we do not reach that point, but if you are not capable of resolving this matter of Mr Assange's presence in your premises, this is an open option for us."
Despite a growing police presence outside the embassy, reports they had entered the embassy proved to be false.
Asked during question time in the Senate if he had approached the British government upon hearing reports of the growing tension, Senator Carr said Australia could not "intervene in the UK legal process".
"Australia of course is not a party to this decision. It is a matter between Mr Assange and the governments of Ecuador and the United Kingdom," Senator Carr said.
"And the court case that led to this affair arising in this fashion ... is between Mr Assange and the government of Sweden."
Senator Carr said the Federal Government would not "make representations one way or the other" in term of the asylum claim.
He added no Australian had received more consular support than Mr Assange since legal proceedings commenced against him in 2010.
He said the Australian government had sought assurances of due process for Mr Assange "current and future proceedings" in the UK and Sweden.