Documents reveal WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange sought refuge in Russia

Two years prior to obtaining diplomatic shelter in Ecuador’s London Embassy, Julian Assange applied for a Russian visa, the first step in an ostensible attempt to gain protection from authorities in Moscow.

Part of an unauthorized disclosure of WikiLeaks’ emails, chat logs, financial records and secretly recorded footage obtained by the Associated Press (AP), a letter allegedly written by Assange authorizes an acquaintance to secure a Russian visa for the Australian-born investigative journalist.

“I, Julian Assange, hereby grant full authority to my friend, Israel Shamir, to both drop off and collect my passport, in order to get a visa,” read the letter acquired by the AP.

A letter has revealed how Julian Assange applied for a Russian visa two years before resorting to hiding in Ecuador's London Embassy to avoid extradition over rape claims

Dated Nov. 30, 2010, the note was addressed to the Russian Consulate office in London.

The letter is dated two days after WikiLeaks published a trove of U.S. State Department documents, known as the “diplomatic cables leak.”

The documents included information then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton directed junior officials to obtain private information of European diplomats at the U.N. and that the State Department’s believed the Chinese government was authorizing cyberhacking attempts.

The cables also disclose Arab nations appealing to the U.S. to initiate a military strike on Iran, Washington applying diplomatic pressure on Pakistan to surrender nuclear material and American drone strikes in Yemen.

The application for a Russian visa also came 10 days after Swedish authorities issued an arrest warrant for Assange for allegedly sexually assaulting two women during an August 2010 visit to Stockholm.

Questioned by Swedish authorities, Assange was released and arrived in London, later to face conditional bail in the U.K.

On the same day Assange allegedly applied for a Russian visa, INTERPOL issued a Red Card for his arrest, which would have made obtaining a visa virtually impossible. Mr. Assange later skipped bail and sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy.

Swedish officials later revoked the arrest warrant for Assange.

Despite WikiLeaks confirming the accuracy of the documents, by way of validation from five former but unnamed individuals affiliated with the journalistic group, WikiLeaks has denied Assange applied for a Russian visa or penned the request letter.

Contacted by the AP, Assange’s acquaintance, Mr. Shamir, claimed he had no recollection of the matter and did not recall whether he successfully obtained the visa.


[AP] [The Guardian] [Photo courtesy Nogginworks]