Julian Assange Rejects Ecuador’s Agreement with U.K.
After 6 years allowing Julian Assange to reside at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Ecuador has finally gotten fed up. The alleged sexual predator and the WikiLeaks founder has been living in the Embassy since he claimed asylum in 2012 to attempt to escape extradition to Sweden over sexual assault and rape charges. Assange claimed the rape charges were a ruse to extradite him to the United States, though Swedish prosecutors later dropped the rape charges.
In recent months, Assange and Ecuador’s newest Administration have been clashing significantly, and the Ecuadorian Government searching for ways to evict Assange. On Thursday, Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno announced Assange could choose to leave the embassy without the risk of being extradited for charges abroad.
"The way has been cleared for Mr. Assange to take the decision to leave in near-liberty," Moreno told The Telegraph, without elaborating on what “near-liberty” meant.
"The British government has told us that the Constitution of Great Britain bars extradition of a person to a place where his life is in danger, or he faces the death penalty," Moreno said in a radio interview. Moreno added that Assange has to nonetheless "serve a short sentence" in Britain for violating his bail conditions.
Despite the offer, Assange quickly issued a rejection. Assange’s lawyer, Barry Pollack, told the Telegraph that the U.K.-Ecuador agreement is not acceptable as it does not protect Assange from being extradited to the United States.
Assange has been under investigation by the United States Department of Justice since 2010 when his website, WikiLeaks, published thousands of classified reports on the War in Afghanistan. These reports were stolen by Chelsea Manning, a former U.S Army Intelligence analyst.
Last year, Jeff Sessions, the former U.S. Attorney General, said arresting Mr. Assange was a priority.
According to the Telegraph, a filling error last November revealed that Mr. Assange faced charges in the U.S., although it was not clear what those charges were.
Assange’s main fear lies in being convicted in the U.S. and facing prison time.
"The suggestion that as long as the death penalty is off the table, Mr. Assange need not to fear persecution is obviously wrong," Pollack told the outlet. "No one should have to face criminal charges for publishing truthful information.”
Pollack argued that since the U.S has appeared to bring charges against Assange, Ecuador should still provide him asylum.
Moreno said he would prefer Assange to surrender himself because of the high cost Ecuador is paying after granting him asylum.
"More than five years in [an] asylum is not human," Moreno said in an interview with Carmen Aristegui for CNN en Español.
However, Moreno also claims Ecuador will not ignore Assange’s rights.
"We will protect Mr. Assange's rights — this is why we are looking for a solution, but this needs to be an agreed solution," he said.
Regardless of the country, Assange would be extradited to, Assange will still face an arrest warrant in Britain over violating bail conditions, which he had done by seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy.