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.
By Emily Merrell | United States
Ecuador officials are planning on withdrawing asylum from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and handing him over to the British authorities.
Ecuador’s president Lenin Moreno went to London on Friday to speak at the 2018 Global Disabilities Summit. He has been in a wheelchair since a 1998 robbery attempt, in which he was shot. The actual purpose of President Moreno’s trip was to meet with the British government to agree on Ecuador withdrawing protection from Julian Assange, who has been under Ecuador asylum since 2012.
Assange first came to the Ecuadorian embassy after a warrant for his arrest following allegations of sexual assault by the Swedish government. He denied the allegations and the case was closed in 2017. He stayed in the protection of Ecuador asylum out of worries that he would be prosecuted in the United States for publishing classified documents that were leaked by Chelsea Manning.
Assange has not been allowed to access the Internet. Officials stated that he violated an agreement not intervene in state affairs by tweeting support for leaders in Catalonia to secede last year, which angered the Spanish government. Moreno, who was elected as Ecuadorian president in May, has considered the Wikileaks founder a “stone in the shoe” and an “inherited problem.”
A source in contact with the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry and the President has confirmed that Moreno is close to finalizing, if not already, an agreement to hand Assange over to the U.K. in the coming weeks. Such an agreement will depend on the rewards Ecuador will receive by withdrawing asylum from Assange. Former President of Ecuador Rafael Correa informed in an interview that Moreno has made Ecuador a highly “submissive” country toward western governments.
It is likely that the U.K., Spain, and the U.S. will be guaranteed that the U.K. will not extradite the whistleblower to the U.S. The Trump administration has promised to prosecute Assange and eliminate Wikileaks if this occurs.
Assange only has one criminal proceeding for a 2012 arrest warrant for “failure to surrender” which carries a term of three months and a fine. However, his former arrest in the U.K. may count against the pending sentence.
The question is, what will the U.S. Government do? The Obama Administration was very eager on prosecuting Assange and Wikileaks for publishing thousands of classified documents but came to the conclusion that there would not be a way to do so without also prosecuting the New York Times and other mainstream news outlets.
However, the Trump administration has vowed to prosecute Assange as it is against the law to publish classified documents. Mike Pompeo stated that Wikileaks is a “non-state hostile intelligence service abetted by state actors like Russia” and claimed, “we have to recognize we can no longer allow Assange and Wikileaks Freedom of Speech against us.”
While nothing is certain yet, the future for Assange and Wikileaks seems very threatening.
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