Thursday morning, Julian Assange lost his safe place in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London after seven years. Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, revoked his asylum, citing breaches of international law. The following video from The Independent shows British police dragging Assange out of the embassy.
Julian Assange has been arrested and removed from the Ecuadorian embassy pic.twitter.com/xGCGMjgVJy
— The Independent (@Independent) April 11, 2019
Wikileaks, though, has claimed that the arrest itself was in violation of the law. They Tweeted Thursday in support of Assange, their founder.
URGENT: Ecuador has illigally terminated Assange political asylum in violation of international law. He was arrested by the British police inside the Ecuadorian embassy minutes ago.https://t.co/6Ukjh2rMKD
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 11, 2019
He took refuge there in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden for a sexual assault charge. However, authorities have since dropped the case. Now, the UK must decide whether to extradite him to the United States. If they do, he may face up to five years in prison for leaking classified government documents. The entire case, though, rests on one critical piece of evidence.
The Case Against Assange
To prove Assange guilty, Eastern District of Virginia prosecutors hope to get Chelsea Manning to hand over many thousands of classified documents. She, however, has staunchly refused to participate in Wikileaks investigations in the past. Calling them against her morals, Manning has suffered a month of solitary confinement so far for her refusal to talk. Her detention appears to be indefinite.
In Assange’s extradition warrant, there is only one charge: conspiracy to hack a government computer. After Manning gave Wikileaks hundreds of thousands of documents, Assange allegedly tried to help her crack a password that would give her access to many more.
Conversations with Chelsea Manning?
The prosecutors are now claiming that Assange encouraged Manning to leak more files when she appeared hesitant. In 2010, Manning communicated online with a user who has the usernames “pressassociation” and “Ox”. Prosecutors are under the impression that this user was Assange.
After leaking many documents about the military and briefs from Guantanamo Bay, she claimed that she was all out of documents. The unknown user, however, claimed that “Curious eyes never run dry in my experience”.
Currently, it is unclear how the government plans to definitively connect the user with Assange. It appears, though, that if they fail to do so, the charge will be much more difficult to prove.
Assange’s legal team is currently fighting to avoid extradition in the first place, which would prevent the trial from occurring. Manning, meanwhile, is no longer in solitary confinement, but still sits in prison in Virginia.
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