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US payback for Assange 'unacceptable'

29 August 2012, 12:00

Quito - It would be unacceptable for the United States to use economic means to pay Ecuador back for granting asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the country's president said on Tuesday.

"It should be unacceptable for us to be subjected to commercial reprisals for having granted asylum to a citizen," Rafael Correa told a meeting of industrialists in Quito.

Ecuador's national sovereignty "is not for sale", said the socialist leader, often at odds with Washington.

Accepting "pressure" from the United States would be "terrible: A symptom of neo-colonialism", he added.

Correa's statement was delivered amid fears in local economic circles that the US will not renew trade benefits under the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) due to expire on 30 June 2013.

Earlier this month, Ecuador granted asylum to Assange, who has been holed up at the country's embassy in London since June. He took refuge there to escape extradition to Sweden, where he is sought for questioning about sex assault allegations.

He claims that if extradited to Sweden, he would be handed over to the United States, where he fears prosecution over WikiLeaks' release of a vast cache of confidential US government files.



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