The Intercept and other sources reported that Wikileaks’ Julian Assange must eventually leave the Ecuadoran embassy in London. This is the statement given by Ecuadoran president Lenin Moreno.
Via Sky News:
Lenin Moreno confirmed he had spoken to the British government about the situation, amid speculation that the long-running stand-off is coming to a head.
Australian-born Assange has been holed up in the country’s embassy since 2012 to avoid being extradited to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations, which authorities have since dropped.
Assange fears he will be extradited to the US if he leaves the embassy in Knightsbridge.
In March, Ecuador’s government cut off Assange’s internet connection after he complained about the arrest of a Catalan separatist politician on social media.
Last December, Assange was made an Ecuadorean citizen – and the country unsuccessfully tried to register him as a diplomat with immunity as part of its efforts to have him leave the embassy without risk of being detained.
A briefing to MPs last month from one of Assange’s legal team said the UK could resolve the impasse by providing a diplomatic assurance against US extradition.
Speculation about Assange’s future has grown after the Sunday Times reported senior officials from Ecuador and Britain were now in discussion about how to remove him from the embassy after revocation of his asylum.
And a source close to him told Reuters the situation was coming to a head, adding: “It’s not looking good.”
Despite the rape allegation against Assange being dropped, he has refused to leave the embassy while a separate UK arrest warrant for breaching his bail conditions remains in effect.
The WikiLeaks founder says he fears extradition to the United States for questioning over the activities of the website if he leaves the building in leafy Knightsbridge.
Assange accused the UK of a “cover-up” to keep him detained and his lawyer Jennifer Robinson said the British government had refused to confirm or deny whether there is an extradition request from the US.
WikiLeaks caused an international storm in 2010 when it published a series of leaks from US soldier [Bradley] Chelsea Manning.
The leaks enraged Washington and included thousands of secret US diplomatic cables that were highly critical of world leaders, including Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s royal family.
He was seen as a cyber-hero by some for exposing government abuses of power and championing free speech, but to others he was viewed as a criminal who undermined the security of the West by exposing secrets.
He has recently been accused of speaking to Russian hackers trying to block the election of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 United States presidential election.
What is not known at this time is what “eventually” means. Mr. Assange is concerned about extradition to the United States and the UK presently refuses to provide assurances that he would not be arrested and extradited the moment he leaves the Ecuadoran embassy.
There are also other conditions at play that are giving Julian Assange a lot of pressure. Living in the embassy in London for six years has taken a harsh toll on his health. Pamela Anderson, who is reported to be close to Assange, noted in May:
She said: “It’s terrible. They’ve cut off internet access. He’s a political prisoner in the heart of London. Cut off from everybody. No, nobody can visit him right now. His lawyers possibly.
“I’m very concerned about his health. I think this is a form of torture, I think they’re slowly killing him. I’m very, very, very, concerned, deeply concerned for him. He’s one of the most important people on the planet right now.
“He’s exposing all these war crimes and truths; we really need him at this moment. It’s not a coincidence he’s being investigated at this time.”
She added that the UK is being “so stupid” in not confirming whether Assange will be extradited to the USA or not.
She continued: “His circumstances, with no sunlight, being in a small space for so long and now being cut off from everybody is just inhumane, it’s a human rights situation, he’s being abused. He’s not the culprit, he’s just the messenger.”
As described above, Julian Assange has been living under extremely isolated circumstances. While no decisive move appears to have been made just yet, the sum total of pressure from all these circumstances may force the world’s most widely known whistleblower to make a decision for himself.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.