Passport

Ecuador’s other asylum controversy

While the Julian Assange situation continues to play out in Knightsbridge, RFE/RL reports on another asylum case involving the Ecuadorean government: According to various accounts, Barankou, 30, was a member of the Belarusian security forces who says he was seeking to expose corruption among some of the country’s senior officials. He was granted political asylum ...

While the Julian Assange situation continues to play out in Knightsbridge, RFE/RL reports on another asylum case involving the Ecuadorean government:

According to various accounts, Barankou, 30, was a member of the Belarusian security forces who says he was seeking to expose corruption among some of the country’s senior officials. He was granted political asylum in Ecuador in 2010.

But just a few weeks before Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka visited the South American country on June 28, Barankou was detained. He now sits in a jail in the capital, Quito, awaiting a court decision on a new extradition request from Belarusian authorities.

Barankou, whose name is also sometimes spelled Barankov, told Ecuadorean reporters after an August 9 court hearing that he fears his life would be in danger if he were sent back to Belarus — the only European country which still uses the death penalty.

"If they extradite me I will face torture and a death sentence," he said. "I don’t stand a chance."

Barankou arrived in Ecuador in 2009 after escaping from Belarus, where he had been charged with bribery and fraud and put on the Interpol’s wanted list. He chose Ecuador because he did not need a visa to travel there.

Belarus’ efforts to extradite Barankou come as Rafael Correa’s government has been seeking closer ties with Lukashenko’s government. A lot about Barankou’s case is pretty murky, but given the fate that surely awaits him back in Belarus, his extradition would even further damage the already flimsy claim by Wikileaks’ defenders that Ecuador is acting "in accordance with important principles of international human rights" in order to protect Assange from being sent to the United States.

 Twitter: @joshuakeating

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