Julian Assange, the founder of the self-described “not-for-profit media organization WikiLeaks,” is facing the possibility of being evicted from Ecuador’s London embassy.
British and Ecuadoran officials are in “high-level” talks to decide the fate of Assange, who has been living in the embassy for over six years.
The Times UK writes:
Ministers and senior Foreign Office officials are locked in discussions over the fate of Assange, the founder and editor of WikiLeaks, who claimed political asylum from Ecuador in 2012 and who believes he will be extradited to the United States if he leaves the embassy in Knightsbridge, central London.
Sir Alan Duncan, the Foreign Office minister, is understood to be involved in the diplomatic effort, which comes weeks before a visit to the UK by Lenin Moreno, the new Ecuadorean president, who has called Assange a “hacker”, an “inherited problem” and a “stone in the shoe”.
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa granted Assange political asylum in August 2012 after the Australian hacker was accused of committing a series of sex crimes during a 2010 visit to Sweden. The WikiLeaks founder has long held the Obama White House ginned up the allegations in a bid to tarnish his reputation.
Speaking to reporters from the balcony’s Ecuador London embassy in 2012, Assange called on U.S. authorities to halt its investigation into WikiLeaks. “I ask President Obama to do the right thing. The United States must renounce its witch hunt against WikiLeaks,” said Assange. “The United States must dissolve its FBI investigation. The United States must vow that it will not seek to prosecute our staff or our supporters.”
Embassy staffers in March cut off Assange’s internet access and revoked permission to receive visitors.
In a statement issued by the government of Ecuador, officials say the crackdown came in response to Assange breaking “a written commitment made to the government at the end of 2017 not to issue messages that might interfere with other states.” Ecuador further alleged the social media habits of the WikiLeaks founder “put at risk the good relations [Ecuador] maintains with the United Kingdom, with the other states of the European Union, and with other nations.”
— Comunicación Ecuador (@ComunicacionEc) March 28, 2018
Reports of the high-level talks over Assange’s fate follow the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking offenses during the 2016 presidential election. The Justice Department said Friday the Kremlin-backed operatives infiltrated the computer systems of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign. As part of the cyber attack, emails of Clinton campaign staffers were infamously published by WikiLeaks in the months leading up to the election.