Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, is weighing whether to grant WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s request for political asylum. The Australian-born Assange, who is fighting extradition to Sweden to face sexual-assault allegations, is holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.
Whatever the fiery populist president decides, this is a bizarre story because Correa has shown little tolerance for freedom of expression in Ecuador. He’s engaged in a war of words with the media, conjuring up archaic libel laws to go after newspaper owners and a columnist he disagreed with. More recently, he’s sought to weaken the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a watchdog group that has pushed to protect indigenous leaders, journalists and civil society organizations in the Western Hemisphere from abuses, and its special rapporteur for freedom of expression in the region.