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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