It would be “suicide for Great Britain” if authorities tried to enter Ecuador’s embassy to reach Julian Assange, the country’s president said.
Rafael Correa said that if the British authorities forced their way into the London site to arrest the WikiLeaks founder, then other people should be able to gain access to British embassies in foreign countries.
Mr Assange, who is wanted in Sweden for questioning on sexual assault allegations, has been seeking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for two months, sparking a diplomatic row between the South American country and the UK.
Speaking on state television, Mr Correa said such a course of action would be “suicide for Great Britain because then people could enter their diplomatic premises all around the world and they wouldn’t be able to say a thing”.
He added: “While the United Kingdom hasn’t retracted nor apologised, the danger still exists.
“Remember that David beat Goliath. And with many Davids it’s easier to bring down a number of Goliaths.
“So we’re hoping for clear and coherent backing because this violates all inter-American law, all international law, the Vienna Convention and all diplomatic traditions of the last, at least, 300 years on a global scale.”
Foreign ministers from across South America have called for dialogue between the two countries, issuing a statement of support for Ecuador following the meeting of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) in the country.
In the statement, released after the 20-minute meeting, the ministers “condemned the threat of the use of force between states” and reiterated “the right of states to concede asylum”.
Unasur’s meeting was held a day after Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Argentina endorsed Ecuador’s asylum decision.
Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Chile are among Latin American nations that have not taken a stand.
On Sunday, Mr Assange made his first public appearance since he entered the building, calling on Washington to “renounce its witch-hunt” against WikiLeaks.
The Australian thanked Ecuador for taking a “stand for justice” in giving him political asylum when he spoke from the embassy’s balcony.
Foreign Secretary William Hague has made it clear Mr Assange will not be allowed safe passage out of the UK.
Mr Assange denies the allegations and fears being transferred to America if he travels to contest them.
He enraged the US government in 2010 when WikiLeaks published tranches of secret US diplomatic cables.
During his speech, Mr Assange thanked Ecuador and other helpful South American nations and supporters around the world.
He said: “On Wednesday night, after a threat was sent to this embassy, the police descended on this building. You came out in the middle of the night to watch over it, and you brought the world’s eyes with you.
“Inside this embassy in the dark, I could hear teams of police swarming up inside the building through its internal fire escape.
“But I knew there would be witnesses, and that is because of you.
“If the UK did not throw away the Vienna Convention the other night, it is because the world was watching. And the world was watching because you were watching.”
Ecuador has said it granted asylum because neither Britain nor Sweden would offer guarantees that they would not allow Mr Assange’s extradition to the United States. Supporters of Mr Assange say they fear he has been secretly indicted by a grand jury in the US.
Mr Correa has said there is sufficient reason to fear Mr Assange, who published the largest trove of US secrets ever in 2010, would be denied due process in the United States and could face life in prison or even the death penalty.