Page 3 Profile: Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador


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The Independent Online

What's he had to say about the Julian Assange affair then?

While offering asylum to WikiLeaks founder Assange, who is wanted in Sweden over sexual assault allegations but is sheltering under the diplomatic immunity of Ecuador's London embassy, President Correa has described the UK's stance on the issue as "grotesque". He has also warned that Britain doesn't "know who they are dealing with", using plenty of populist anti-imperialist rhetoric.

So does he believe Assange is innocent?

Not exactly. He fears Assange will be extradited to a "third country" — in other words the US, where he has become a hate figure after releasing confidential state documents. Yet Correa says he doesn't "agree with everything Assange has done", adding that "we aren't denying that he has committed a criminal offence". He asserts, however, that the matter should be tried with due process.

Do I hear an election in the offing?

How very prescient of you. In six months' time Correa will run for re-election and, with his support on the cusp of a majority, some see his manoeuvrings as a strategy to distract voters from domestic issues and cement his lead over opponents. As political speech is severely restricted in Ecuador's media 90 days before the ballot, the longer the Assange saga drags on, perhaps, the better for Correa.