QUITO (Reuters) - The mother of Julian Assange, visiting Ecuador on Monday to plea for her son’s asylum request, said the WikiLeaks founder is under extreme psychological stress and feels his only option is to seek safety in Ecuador.
Assange has been taking refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since June 19. The former computer hacker, who enraged Washington in 2010 when his WikiLeaks website published secret U.S. diplomatic cables, is wanted for questioning in Sweden over sex crime allegations.
The Australian anti-secrecy campaigner has broken his bail terms and requested asylum in Ecuador because he fears he could be bundled to the United States where his life would be at risk.
“He is freedom loving, he cannot run, he cannot go outside to see the sky, outside the UK police wait like dogs to take him ... he cannot exercise the way he normally could and he’s under extreme psychological stress,” Christine Assange said in a live interview with local television.
Julian Assange’s mother was due to meet Ecuador’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, on Monday to plea for her son’s asylum request.
“I am not here to demand asylum, I come to humbly ask, as his mother,” she said.
The Ecuadorean government has said that it will take as long as needed to make a thorough analysis of Assange’s asylum application before making a decision.
Comments by Patino last week suggested that Ecuador will refrain from announcing a decision regarding Assange’s asylum application until the end of the Olympic games as a sign of respect for the UK government.
Assange’s mother said that her son chose Ecuador because its constitution enshrines human rights and because it does not have the death penalty.
She also referred to leftist President Rafael Correa as “very brave” and said she trusts that Correa will not allow his country’s sovereignty to be manipulated by foreign interests.
Christine Assange said she fears that the United States will move to extradite her son if he is sent to Sweden.
Neither the U.S. nor Swedish authorities has charged Assange with anything. Swedish prosecutors want to question him about allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two WikiLeaks supporters in 2010.
Assange says he had consensual sex with the women.
Editing by Vicki Allen