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In an open letter to the French president on Friday the founder of WikiLeaks, Julain Assange, made an apparent appeal for political asylum in France. Assange, whose whistleblowing organisation was behind the recent revelations published by Mediapart and Libération about US spying on French heads of state, said that he faced “political persecution” and that his life was “in danger”. However, within an hour of the publication of the open letter President Hollande's office issued a brusque statement rejecting asylum for Assange, who has spent three years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to escape extradition to Sweden. As Lénaïg Bredoux, Jérôme Hourdeaux and Mathieu Magnaudeix report, the episode quickly stirred up a row and will inevitably reignite the debate about how far France should be prepared to go in welcoming whistleblowers such as Assange and the former National Security Agency (NSA) employee Edward Snowden.
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