Tag: ecuador

Julian Assange, Co-Founder of Wikileaks, Arrested

Mike Ottavio | @MadMikePolitics

Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange was arrested this morning after spending 7 years in an Ecuadorian embassy, BBC reports.

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.

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Charging Assange is a Terrible Idea, and Here’s Why

By Josh Hughes | United States

The federal government has inadvertently named WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a court filing in an unrelated case. The naming of Assange appears to have been by accident, as the charges came up on the file for a man charged with sex crimes. But, this shows that the Justice Department has his name on file and has likely charged him in a secret case. A spokesman for the attorney’s office simply stated that the filing was an error, while the FBI has declined the comment at all. The whole affair seems very secretive and mysterious, and for good reason. Assange has been a Justice Department target for some time now. Assange has been in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since August of 2012. Without a doubt, his extradition and trial in the U.S. are important to many people of both major parties.

WikiLeaks and those associated with it are often accused of violating the Espionage Act of 1917. It is a wordy document, but it basically makes it illegal to leak classified documents or anything else to the detriment of the United States, specifically in wartime. WikiLeaks has been in the news quite a bit over the past decade for releasing many notable pieces. These include documents about CIA spying, war crimes, and U.S. atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan. More recently, however, they have made international news for the involvement in the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC’s emails in the 2016 presidential election.

Charging Assange: A Dark Move

Would pressing charges against the organization and Assange be a good thing for the U.S. to do? In a time when the current administration is under heavy fire for limiting the press and making the media the enemy, perhaps it would be best to lay off such outlets whose sole intent is to provide transparency. WikiLeaks and Assange did nothing wrong; their sole crimes are the exposure of government crimes.

How could anyone, especially from a party that claims to support government transparency, support the arrest of a man and an organization who does just that? In times like these, perhaps suppression of the media isn’t the way to go. Admittedly, the government would never encourage hackers, leakers, and other whistleblowers. However, it may be more beneficial to drop the charges and continue to let Assange operate out of his base in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. To be fair, WikiLeaks has never been partial or partisan, exposing both left and right wing issues.

With the election of right-leaning Lenin Moreno as president of Ecuador, Assange may be facing an uphill battle. Extradition is a very tough case, one Assange has promised to fight. For the time being, he is safe, but officials in the embassy have begun to be stricter towards him. He has not left the embassy in months. The near future will be interesting to follow with the WikiLeaks foundation. The loss of Assange would be a huge blow to the liberty movement. For now, all one can do is hope for his safety. 


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Ecuador is Handing Over Julian Assange to the United Kingdom

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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