An open letter to the government of Ecuador

To whom it may concern:

This is a letter to tell you what you must surely already know. And it is a letter from a U.S. citizen, born in 1959 in Buffalo, New York, requesting that you grant positive consideration to Julian Assange’s reported request for political asylum in your country.[1]

I will not belabor the details of Assange’s passage through the British legal system in appealing his extradition to Sweden on accusations for which I understand he has yet to be charged. Your lawyers are, I’m sure, considerably more competent to evaluate his case than I. Nor will I trouble you with my analysis of Sweden’s handling of this matter. Again, you have people who are surely more competent to evaluate this than I. I do, however, share a concern that if extradited to Sweden, despite assurances from the U.S. ambassador to Australia, Assange may rapidly find himself facing trial in the United States.[2]

I will comment, however, on what you have surely noticed. The United States is, by standards of international law, an extremely dangerous rogue state. There is little to no hope of a political self-correction. As Howard Zinn observed, the two-party system here functions to limit the range of acceptable political discourse.[3] And in this context, President Barack Obama’s function as a Democrat has seemingly been to legitimize and extend destructive neoconservative and neoliberal policies that came into force under previous administrations, most notably under the Republican administration of George W. Bush. The rest of the world knows how dangerous this is. But in the United States, we are largely ignorant. Just as we continue to treat our westward expansion as a praiseworthy norm, just as we continue by whatever name a policy known as Manifest Destiny, just as we continue to bully the world, and just as we continue to consider ourselves an “exceptional” country, the few here who are appalled by this state of affairs are too few, and our voices are not heard—for they are outside the range of acceptable political discourse.

The task of checking this extremely dangerous rogue nation falls to other nations. It is a large request of a less powerful country. I hope you will rise to the occasion.


David Benfell

  1. [1]British Broadcasting Corporation, “Wikileaks’ Julian Assange seeks asylum in Ecuador embassy,” June 19, 2012,
  2. [2]Common Dreams, “America has No Interest in Wikileaks’ Assange, says US Ambassador to Australia,” June 1, 2012,; Philip Dorling, “Revealed: US plans to charge Assange,” Sydney Morning Herald, February 29, 2012,
  3. [3]Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present (New York: HarperPerennial, 2005).

4 thoughts on “An open letter to the government of Ecuador

  • June 20, 2012 at 7:44 am

    I hope you sent this to Ecuador.
    There is a Consulado General de Ecuador here in my city.
    Would you like this translated to Spanish?

    • June 21, 2012 at 9:19 pm

      I sent it to the embassy in London. I doubt I’ve followed proper protocol, which is unfortunate. It would be nice if I even knew what proper protocol is for such occasions.

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