Every year, I go to my parents’ old alma mater in central West Virginia. Outside McCuskey Hall, there’s a grove of enormous oak trees, casting shade on the grassy field. In the fall it is absolutely picturesque. Every year my dad tells me and my sister the same story. When he was in college in the late 80s, he would climb one of the oaks and string up a hammock in the branches. He spent most of his time in these trees with his friends, chatting and practicing dove-calls. But sometimes, he would haul his ham radio (amateur radio) into the branches and talk to kids across the campus or call my mother in the other dorm hall. All the while, he feared to break a major law by ordering a pizza.
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.
Assange initially took refuge in an Ecuadorian embassy seven years ago to avoid being extradited to Sweden over a sexual assault case that has since been dropped.
Julian Assange has been arrested and removed from the Ecuadorian embassy pic.twitter.com/xGCGMjgVJy
— The Independent (@Independent) April 11, 2019
By James Sweet III | United States
If Julian Assange decided to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London tomorrow, he could leave knowing that he may not be extradited to the United States. According to Ecuador’s President, Lenin Moreno, the British government has guaranteed that the founder of Wikileaks would not be extradited to any nation that may serve him the death penalty.
Moreno stated in a radio interview Thursday that he has received written assurances from the British government that they will not extradite Assange to a foreign country that could put the man to death. In the United States, Assange is facing several charges for leaking classified information regarding diplomatic cables and war crimes in the Middle East. The possible sentence for these crimes could carry the death penalty.
Assange has been hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012, being granted asylum under former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa. His access to the internet was cut by the Ecuadorian government, although it was recently restored, and he hasn’t seen sunlight in years. While the current President has stated he will not force Assange out, Moreno revealed that the asylee’s team is discussing what to do next.
Assange could still be extradited to the United States, however, if American prosecutors promised not to pursue the death penalty. Wikileaks revealed in mid-November that the government of the United States was pursuing charges against Assange, but they are currently sealed and the charges federal prosecutors may pursue are unknown.
Regardless, this is an important step for Julian Assange. The activist’s chances of leaving the embassy without fear of a shortened life have increased. If he did indeed leave the embassy and was kept in the United Kingdom, it would be a victory for government transparency advocates around the world, although not being arrested is preferable.
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By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, may be in trouble. Since 2012, he has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy. The government of Ecuador has granted him asylum, but recent possible charges from the United States could end his safety.