Following the election of ruling party candidate Lenín Moreno in Ecuador, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will likely be allowed to continue living at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
USA Today reports that following the victory of Lenín Moreno over his opponent Guillermo Lasso, Julian Assange will most likely be permitted to continue living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Moreno has previously stated that he would allow Assange to stay in the embassy, upholding the decision made by his predecessor Rafael Correa who granted Assange asylum in 2012.
Moreno won the Ecuadorian presidential election with 51% of the vote according to a count by the National Electoral Council. However, his opponent is calling for a recount after three other exit polls showed the conservative candidate winning by a high margin. Lasso’s loss bodes well for Assange as the candidate had previously stated that he would evict Julian Assange within 30 days of taking office but would assist in helping him to find asylum in another country or embassy.
“We will ask Mr. Assange, very politely, to leave our embassy, in absolute compliance with international conventions and protocols,” Lasso told the Miami Herald, “we vow to take all the steps necessary so that another embassy will take him in and protect his rights.”
Assange has been unable to travel from the embassy due to heavy scrutiny from the UK government and police in London. Assange has lived in the embassy since 2012 while avoiding extradition to Sweden following allegations of sexual misconduct, charges that Assange and his legal team fear are simply a trap designed to have the WikiLeaks editor extradited to the United States.
In comparison to Lasso, Moreno stated that Assange would remain welcome at the embassy, albeit with a few conditions. “We will always be alert and ask Mr. Assange to show respect in his declarations regarding our brotherly and friendly countries,” Moreno said. A member of Assange’s UK legal team, Jennifer Robinson, commented on the matter saying,
“We are obviously very concerned that any candidate would threaten to undermine the protection that the Ecuadorian state has granted Julian. No government should play politics with the granting of asylum. It’s a legal protection provided for under international law, Ecuador has granted that protection, they have recognized him as a refugee, and now they have obligations to protect him whatever happens in the elections.”