Ecuador is sounding positive on Julian Assange. Great! But what happens when the US Grand Jury reveals new "evidence"? There will be huge pressure on Ecuador's President Rafael Correa.
It's good that Correa is taking time to review the FACTS. He should also demand that the US reveal whatever relevant evidence they have NOW.
If Correa grants asylum, he cannot whisk Assange off to Quito without a UK safe passage deal. But the US will surely block such a deal (perhaps by revealing Grand Jury "evidence" to a frothing press?) and then demand Correa reconsider.
The media circus over this new "evidence" may turn the UK public decisively against Assange. Safe passage could be delayed a very long time.
Alternatively, Correa could get the Grand Jury "evidence" now (perhaps in secret) and negotiate a deal (definitely in secret) that saves face for all.
Consider three possible outcomes, from a million possibilities..
#1 Outcome (ideal but unlikely): US indictment remains sealed, Obama says he's not interested in prosecuting journos, Assange flies to Ecuador. Correa becomes a hugely popular global hero (USA does not want this!). What would US want in return for this? What could or would Correa offer?
Outcome #2: Correa ridicules Grand Jury evidence in public (compares to Powell's WMDs?) and Assange wins UK popular support. The UK Cameron govt (or next Labor govt) prefers to get rid of Assange and upset the US rather than lose votes. Assange flies out.
Outcome #3: Correa decides Assange is not his problem, hands him back to UK. How much popular support would this cost Correa? Domestically, perhaps not much (Ecuador's under-educated poor are his base). But internationally a big loss of face.
Correa seems a proud, sincere and committed man, but also a calculating realist. It's his End Game now, not Julian's.