Julian Assange will no longer serve as WikiLeaks’ editor-in-chief, according to the whistleblowing platform.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) September 26, 2018
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, WikiLeaks announced Kristinn Hrafnsson, an Icelandic reporter and one-time spokesman for the organization, will replace Assange at the helm on the non-profit group.
“Due to the extraordinary circumstances where Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has been held incommunicado (except for visits by his lawyers) for six months while arbitrarily detailed in the Ecuadorian embassy, Mr. Assange has appointed Kristinn Hrafnsson Editor in Chief of WikiLeaks,” the statement reads.
“Mr. Assange will continue to be the publisher of WikiLeaks. Mr. Hrafnsson is an Icelandic investigative journalist selected in 2010 as Icelandic journalist of the year (his third award) for his role in the Collateral Murder publishing collaboration with WikiLeaks,” the announcement continues. “That same year, he became spokesperson and kept that post until 2016. Since then has overseen certain legal projects for WikiLeaks.”
Hrafnsson said of his appointment: “I condemn the treatment of Julian Assange that leads to my new role, but I welcome the responsibility to secure the continuation of the important work based on WikiLeaks ideals.”
The announcement comes months after the Ecuadorian government disconnected Assange’s internet access and banned associates visiting the Australian WikiLeaks editor. According to officials, the 47-year-old’s access to the outside world was cut off after violating “a written commitment made to the government at the end of 2017 not to issue messages that might interfere with other states.” Further, the Ecuadorian government claims 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.”
According to Greg Barn, an attorney and advisor to WikiLeaks, Assange is in failing health and has been denied medical treatment since Ecuador granted the hacker political asylum in its London embassy since 2012.
“What is remarkable is that Julian remains so mentally alert and is able to function physically given the inevitable impact of six years detention without natural light or access to fresh air on a constant basis,” Barns said in an interview with iTWire. “However if there is not a resolution to his case — in other words, the UK guaranteeing that he will not be extradited to the US — the reality is Julian’s health will deteriorate to the point where his life is in serious danger.”