He spelled out three possibilities for the standoff to be broken: for the U.K. to promise safe conduct to the airport without the threat of arrest; for Assange to leave asylum of his own accord; or for the government in Ecuador to change its mind, which he said would not happen.
The British government has insisted on an investigation into the rape and sexual assault accusations. It wants to comply with a court request that Assange should be sent to Sweden for questioning. Assange's supporters have tried to discredit the allegations, saying they are part of a plot to extradite him to the U.S.
Senior politicians in Ecuador have implied much the same. Correas added his voice but said the case needed to be answered. "I don't want to judge allegations that have not been proven and would not, in any case, be considered a felony in Latin American, too," he said. "It has never been the intention of the Ecuadorean government for Julian Assange not to respond to those allegations."
Ecuador has proposed interrogations by Swedish investigators on embassy property and has said it would support Assange going to Sweden if it could get reassurances from the U.K. government that he would not then be extradited to the U.S.
Critics say this is grandstanding for domestic political reasons. Correa – already Ecuador's longest serving president for a century – will contest an election early next year. Although his support rates are high, one of his least popular moves has been to assert greater control over the media through lawsuits, referenda and closures of radio stations. Providing a haven for Assage – a champion of whistleblowers – may be designed to offset these negative perceptions.
During the Q&A on Tuesday Correa addressed this issue and defending an offensive against TV, radio and print. "Don't let yourself be fooled by what's going. There is this image of the media as being about Woodward and Bernstein and Watergate and the struggle for freedom of expression. But that isn't the case here."
The reality, he said, was more like the the novel Pantanleón y las Visitadoras by Mario Vargas Llosa. "Instead of grabbing the news they are blackmailing people. The press in Latin America is totally corrupt," he said.
Intellpuke: You can read this article by Guardian Latin America Correspondent Jonathan Watts in context here: www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/22/ecuador-president-assange-sweden-sex