Julian Assange Can Flee to Ecuador, But It's No Free-Speech Paradise
|WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange|
But before Assange goes to the effort of sneaking himself to South America in a human-size diplomatic pouch, he should know a few things about his safe haven.
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa may have granted Assange asylum on humanitarian grounds, but the country is no peaceful paradise. Nor is Correa's own free-speech record spotless.
In September 2010, police in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito led a violent uprising against Correa over job benefits. Amid tear gas and burning tires, the economist-turned-president tore open his suit jacket and screamed, "Kill me if you have the guts!" He later called the incident a "coup" and warned there would be "no pardon or forgiveness" for those involved.
Four months later, El Universo editor Emilio Palacio published a scathing editorial titled "No to Lies" that called Correa a "dictator" eight times. It ended with a warning: "A new president, maybe your enemy, could drag you to court for having ordered [your soldiers] to open fire whenever they want and without notice on a hospital full of civilians and innocent people."
|Emilio Palacios was sentenced to 3 years in prison for criticizing Correa|
"Correa calls everyone who's not on his side a traitor," Palacio told New Times last year. "That's what he does to enemies."
So much for Correa as a champion of free speech. To his credit, the president pardoned Palacio and waived the $40 million fine this February. Even then, however, the president didn't forgive the men, calling them part of a "dictatorship of the media."
If Assange makes it to Ecuador, he'll be a free man. And he'll be free to speak his mind too -- just as long as he doesn't criticize his new host.
Read our full story about Emilio Palacio's fight against Rafael Correa and flight from Ecuador.
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