Reports out of Ecuador suggest that the United States might finally be able to extradite and prosecute Julian Assange for his alleged crimes against the USA.
The Daily Mail reported this week that: “Ecuador’s foreign minister has hinted that Julian Assange’s time in the country’s London embassy could be coming to a close.”
María Fernanda Espinosa said that Ecuador and the United Kingdom both want the situation to be ‘resolved’ and are working together to form a ‘definite agreement’. Espinosa made the remark as she updated reporters on Assange’s condition last week.
The Cuenca Dispatch, who bills itself as “Ecuador’s Original English-Language Newspaper,” reported that:
In a Wednesday interview with a Spanish news service, Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said that Ecuador and Britain “have the intention and the interest that the Julian Assange affair be resolved.” She added that discussions are underway to reach a “definite agreement” on the issue.
Questions regarding Assange’s status have been circulating since March 27th of this year, at which time Ecuador essentially cut off Assange from the rest of the world.
Agencia EFE, the world’s fourth largest wire service, reported at the time that:
Ecuador has cut off WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s Internet access at its embassy in London, where he has been cooped up since 2012, saying he broke a promise not to offer opinions about other countries’ affairs, officials said Wednesday [March 28].
“Ecuador’s government has suspended the systems that allow Julian Assange to communicate with the outside world from Ecuador’s embassy in London,” the National Communications Secretariat said in a statement…
President Lenin Moreno’s administration said the move was due to Assange’s non-compliance with a December 2017 written pledge not to make social media posts that constitute interference in other nations’ affairs.
Common Dreams reported this week that “Assange is in immense danger,” adding that: “under immense pressure from the British and U.S. governments, Ecuador imposed a complete ban on Assange having any Internet or phone contact with the outside world, and blocked his friends and supporters from physically visiting him. For 46 days, he has not been heard from.”
Continuing, Common Dreams reported that:
If Assange falls into the hands of the British state, he faces being turned over to the U.S. Last year, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that putting Assange on trial for espionage was a “priority.” CIA director Mike Pompeo, now secretary of state, asserted that WikiLeaks was a “non-state hostile intelligence service.
Elaborating on Pompeo’s remarks, CNN reported that:
US intelligence agencies have… determined that Russian intelligence used WikiLeaks to publish emails aimed at undermining the campaign of Hillary Clinton, as part of a broader operation to meddle in the US 2016 presidential election. Hackers working for Russian intelligence agencies stole thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee and officials in the Clinton campaign and used intermediaries to pass along the documents to WikiLeaks, according to a public assessment by US intelligence agencies.
Continuing their report, CNN noted that Attorney General Jeff Session weighed in on Assange the day after Pompeo made his remarks, calling him a “priority.”
We are going to step up our effort and already are stepping up our efforts on all leaks. This is a matter that’s gone beyond anything I’m aware of. We have professionals that have been in the security business of the United States for many years that are shocked by the number of leaks and some of them are quite serious. So yes, it is a priority. We’ve already begun to step up our efforts and whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail.
Further complicating Assange’s legal problems is the recent refusal by a British judge to withdraw the country’s arrest warrant for Assange.
BBC News reported in May 2017 that: “Sweden has decided to drop the rape investigation into Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Top prosecutor Marianne Ny said his arrest warrant was being revoked as it was impossible to serve him notice.”
However, as The Guardian reported in February 2018:
Though Swedish prosecutors dropped the investigation against him, [Assange] faces arrest if he leaves the building in Knightsbridge, west London, for breaching his former bail conditions in the UK.
Handing down her judgment at Westminster magistrates court, the senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot said she was not persuaded by the argument from Assange’s legal team that it was not in the public interest to pursue him for skipping bail.
She said: “I find arrest is a proportionate response even though Mr Assange has restricted his own freedom for a number of years.
“Defendants on bail up and down the country, and requested persons facing extradition, come to court to face the consequences of their own choices. He should have the courage to do the same. It is certainly not against the public interest to proceed.”