The government of Ecuador has reportedly struck a deal with U.K. officials under which WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be forced to leave its London embassy and be handed over to British authorities.
Assange has remained at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June 2012.
According to The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald, who has maintained close contact with the Australian investigative journalist, a visit from Ecuador President Lenin Moreno to London ostensibly to attend the 2018 Global Disabilities Summit is to conclude an agreement with the U.K. to evict Assange from Quito’s embassy.
“A source close to the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry and the President’s office, unauthorized to speak publicly, has confirmed to the Intercept that Moreno is close to finalizing, if he has not already finalized, an agreement to hand over Assange to the UK within the next several weeks. The withdrawal of asylum and physical ejection of Assange could come as early as this week,” Greenwald wrote in The Intercept.
If handed over to British authorities, Assange will face a 2012 arrest warrant issued by a British court for “failure to surrender,” a bail violation Assange committed rather than face an extradition hearing brought about by Sweden.
Moreno will meet U.K. minister and MP Penny Mordaunt Tuesday for potential discussions on Assange’s case. The newly appointed foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said Friday the WikiLeaks founder is “free to walk out of the doors of the Ecuadorean embassy any time he wishes,” and speak with British authorities.
Swedish officials revoked a warrant for Assange’s arrest and dropped their inquiry into allegations he sexually assaulted two women during a 2010 visit to the country in 2017.
Greenwald also claims heavy diplomatic pressure from the U.S. has inspired Ecuador’s shift in attitude, a tilt toward Washington over the Trump administration’s ultimatum to Quito the U.S. would block Ecuador’s expected loan from the International Monetary Fund for shielding Assange.
Assange is wanted in the U.S., which has sought him in connection with the publication of hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents, which detailed civilian casualties and revealed both Pakistani and Iranian involvement in the Iraq and Afghan wars.
Known as the Iraq War logs and the Afghan War logs, the trove of documents were obtained from former Army specialist Bradley Manning.
[The Intercept] [Mirror] [RT] [Photo courtesy Reuters via Sputnik]