QUITO — The mother of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is lobbying Ecuador to grant him asylum, says she is worried her son could face execution if extradited to the United States.
Christine Assange met Wednesday with President Rafael Correa, who is considering whether to grant political asylum to Assange.
The Australian campaigner took refuge in the Ecuadoran embassy in London in mid-June to avoid extradition to Sweden.
Swedish investigators want Assange to answer questions about allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two women in August 2010 after WikiLeaks began releasing classified US documents.
"I feel as a mother that he is not capable of the charges -- not even the charges, the allegations against him," his mother said in an interview with AFP at the Carondelet presidential palace after she met with Correa.
"There is absolutely no doubt that this is a political persecution, by the Swedish prosecutors and the police, with interference of the government," she said.
Christine Assange echoed her son's fears that Sweden would extradite him to the United States to face charges for releasing masses of US military and diplomatic documents into the public domain.
"The US government feels that it can seek to try my son for espionage, and possibly executing him simply for doing the job of a good investigative journalist, which is telling the truth about power," she said.
The United States has opened a criminal investigation into the leaks and is prosecuting US army private Bradley Manning in a military court. But it has not said whether it intends to bring charges against Assange as well.
Assange's mother declined to discuss the substance of her conversation with Correa, but she is counting on his sympathy.
"The president, and his ministers, are very knowledgeable intelligent and compassionate people, genuinely so, and they have a good understanding of the case," she said.
"It's not a secret that the president and his foreign minister believe this case to be political," she added.
Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino has said that Ecuador will respond to Assange's request on August 12, after the London Olympics.
"The important thing is for Julian to be assured that Ecuador is considering his request with great responsibility," Correa told Assange's mother during their hour-long meeting.
Correa said his country has a "great humanist tradition and respect for human rights."
He added that he respects Britain, Sweden, and the people of the United States, and that the matter bears consultation, but that, ultimately, "Ecuador does not negotiate over its sovereignty."
Source: Agence France-Presse, August 2, 2012