Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Ecuador: Julian Assange can leave embassy

Assange Julian Assange participates via video link at a news conference marking the 10th anniversary of WikiLeaks in Berlin in October 2016
Kenny Thornton | 08 December, 2018, 22:46

Similarly, Sweden has recently said that they would not extradite Assange to the United States if the death penalty was on the table.

Mr Assange has long maintained the he faces charges under seal in the USA for revealing highly sensitive government information on his website.

Ecuadoran President Lenin Moreno hinted this week that gears are in motion to end Julian Assange's more than five-year stay at the South American country's embassy in London, prompting speculation that he could face extradition to the USA, where he faces criminal charges.

He did not say he would force Mr Assange out, but said Mr Assange's legal team is considering its next steps.

"The way has been cleared for Mr. Assange to take the decision to leave in near-liberty", Moreno told The Telegraph.

And while Mr Assange remains protected in the Ecuadorian embassy, there have been indications that officials in that country are losing patience with him. Reports in May indicated that Assange might be in jeopardy of losing asylum.

Federal criminal charges against Assange have been filed secretly in the United States and were accidentally leaked in a court filing for an unrelated case several weeks ago.

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Speaking during a radio interview on Thursday, Moreno said his administration has received written assurances that the United Kingdom will not extradite Assange to any nation where he will face the death penalty.

A Justice Department investigation of Assange and WikiLeaks dates to at least 2010, when the site posted thousands of files stolen by the former US Army intelligence analyst now known as Chelsea Manning. This comes as special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the alleged links between US President Donald Trump's associates and Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012 when he was granted asylum while facing allegations of sex crimes in Sweden that he said were a guise to extradite him to the US.

But he said Ecuador was not about to throw Assange out.

Mr Assange founded WikiLeaks in 2006.

In November a filing error revealed that Mr Assange faced charges in the United States - although it was not clear what those charges were.

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