FOR someone who claims to be a fearless defender of free expression and human rights, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's choice of Ecuador for political asylum is odd. The Latin American country's leftist president, Rafael Correa, Assange's amigo, has been accused by The Washington Post of running the most ruthless assault on free media in the western hemisphere.

Correa was the target of action at the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council last month when 17 countries, including Australia, complained of the persecution of the Ecuadorian media.

Journalists at the El Universo newspaper faced a $42m fine for branding Correa a dictator.

The regime's stance on human rights is similar. It has lined up with China, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Russia, Venezuela and Zimbabwe in refusing to condemn atrocities in Syria. Such is the regime Assange wants to embrace him.

If he is innocent of the Swedish sex charges, he should submit himself to that country's well-regarded judicial processes.

He will be judged by the company he keeps and is at risk of being shown up as a hypocrite. Sydney, June 21