Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has sought political asylum in the South American country of Ecuador, under the United Nations Universal Human Rights Declaration.
Wikileaks’ twitter account said this morning that Assange had come under the protection of the Ecuadorian embassy in London while he sought reprieve from a looming extradition to Sweden over alleged sex crime charges.
The Ecuadorian embassy issued a statement that the country had "an obligation to review all applications for asylum".
"We have immediately passed his application on to the relevant department in [Ecuador capital] Quito," they said
"While the department assesses Mr Assange’s application, Mr Assange will remain at the embassy, under the protection of the Ecuadorian Government.
"The decision to consider Mr Assange’s application for protective asylum should in no way be interpreted as the Government of Ecuador interfering in the judicial processes of either the United Kingdom or Sweden."
Ecuador's foreign minister Ricardo Patino told Associated Press that Assange had written to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa about his persecution and claimed "the authorities in his country will not defend his minimum guarantees in front of any government".
Assange feared extradition to "a foreign country that applies the death penalty for the crime of espionage and sedition," according to Patino.
The UN's human rights declaration states that “everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution".
However, a clause in the declaration also states that “the right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations".
Ecuador offered Assange residency in 2010, saying it wanted to give him the opportunity to speak publicly. The country voted in favour of the UN declaration, which stands as international law.
The Wikileaks’ founder has denied any wrongdoing and says the allegations against him are politically motivated. He feared being turned over to the United States to face charges of espionage.