ECUADOR has agreed to grant political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and no law of the United Kingdom allows it to carry out threats to attack Ecuador’s embassy in London, Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino says.

The decision to grant diplomatic protection comes two months after Assange took refuge in the country’s London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questioning for alleged sexual misconduct.

Patino says Ecuador found that Assange faces a real threat of political persecution including the threat of extradition to the United States, where Patino said the Australian would not get a fair trial and could face the death penalty.

The announcement will increase tensions between the UK and the South American country, which has been warned that the situation could have “serious implications” for diplomatic relations.

Ecuadorian ministers have accused the UK of threatening to attack the embassy to seize Mr Assange after it emerged that a 1987 law could allow the revocation of a building’s diplomatic status if the foreign power occupying it “ceases to use land for the purposes of its mission or exclusively for the purposes of a consular post”.

Under international law, diplomatic posts are considered the territory of the foreign nation.

The Foreign Office has said the decision on Mr Assange’s application for political asylum would not affect the UK’s legal obligation to extradite him to Sweden.